Alma's Fury steps up to Group One company
Caryl Williamson
14:37 AEST Tue Mar 5 2013

In his most fanciful dreams, trainer Paul Murray never imagined Alma's Fury would be the horse to give him his breakthrough Group One success.

But the five-year-old's surprise win in last Saturday week's Apollo Stakes has raised expectations for the Chipping Norton Stakes against a similar field at Warwick Farm.

Of the 17 entries for the first Group One of the Sydney autumn, 11 are Group One winners but Murray doesn't think Alma's Fury will be out of place.

The biggest surprise for the trainer was the way the gelding handled the heavy ground in the Apollo, something he had failed to do as a young horse.

"It was so heavy they were getting into it so he wasn't slipping and sliding," Murray said.

"I have no concerns now about running him on a similar track if the rain comes again."

Murray has had plenty of experience handling the Group One winners trained by his father Bede and came agonisingly close to one of his own when Predatory Pricer, a half brother to champion sprinter Takeover Target, ran a half-head second in the 2009 Turnbull Stakes won by Efficient.

"I always thought Predatory Pricer would be the one," Murray said.

"And I always thought Alma's Fury was a Listed to a Group Three horse but funny things happen in racing and now we are raising the bar."

Chris Waller has nominated eight horses for the Chipping Norton (1600m) including the past two winners - Shoot Out and Danleigh.

New Zealanders King Mufhasa and Silent Achiever have also been entered while three-year-olds Sacred Falls and Tougher Than Ever, both Group One winners across the Tasman, are among Waller's team.

Josh Parr has snared the ride on the Peter Moody-trained Manighar who begins his autumn campaign in the Chipping Norton.

Manighar claimed all three legs of last year's autumn weight-for-age treble - the Australian Cup, Ranvet and BMW.

His spring campaign was cut short when he suffered a knee injury which required surgery.


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