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Matthew Smith duo looking to conquer Road to the Jericho

The Canberra Racing Club will celebrate Australia’s greatest war horse, Bill The Bastard, this Sunday with the running of the 3400m Road to the Jericho. The unique race, over a stayer’s trip, holds extra significance with the first Australasian-bred horse past the post exempt from the ballot for the $304,000 Jericho Cup at Warrnambool later this month.

The five horses engaged in the battle will come from far and wide with Steven Pateman’s Azzureous covering the most kilometres, coming all the way from Geelong.

Warwick Farm Trainer Matthew Smith will line up two key chances in True Marvel (FR) and Monreal (IRE). While both ineligible for the Jericho Cup, Smith fancies them both as good chances at Canberra on Sunday.

True Marvel is going really good.” Smith said. “While his form might not read that well, he’s seven now so he’s not as effective under 3000m, so the most significant improvement will come now that he’s getting over that trip.”

“I think he needs at least 3000m to get involved so I expect him to go well here. He has a 16-length win to his name, which came at the Valley last year over 3800m.”

It will be a nice drop-in class for True Marvel after a last start 7th of 7 in the Group 3 Archer Stakes over 2500m at Flemington a fortnight ago.

While True Marvel (FR) will likely be installed as favourite, Smith think’s his stable mate Monreal (IRE) is a good chance of causing an upset.

True Marvel definitely has that bit of class about him once he gets out over that trip, but my other bloke Monreal is certainly no slouch.”

“He’s won over 3000m before, and he’s been in and around the money of late. He’ll run well.”

Later in the day, a full field has assembled in a quality edition of the TAB Federal (1600m). Keith Dryden & Laurel Oak Bloodstock will be looking to cap off the race day, named in their honour, in style with Sky Diamonds and Sweet Honesty both realistic hopes in the day’s feature.

The latter has been installed as an early favourite with TAB ($2.80 at time of publishing) and will appreciate the forecasted rain, having won three of five starts on Heavy going, including last start at this track and distance.

Sweet Honesty, a daughter of Nicconi, has drawn favourably in Barrier Three and will be piloted by experienced hoop Brendan Ward.