Nonconformist and Lunar Flare set to saddle-up in Australian Cup

20 March 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

Nonconformist and Lunar Flare are set to have their second starts for the campaign in the TAB Australian Cup at Flemington.

Grahame Begg will have dual representation in the Group 1 Australian Cup with Nonconformist and Lunar Flare set to run at Flemington

The pair will relish the rise to 2000m on Saturday after having their return runs in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 4. 

Nonconformist scored a surprise win while Lunar Flare got to the line nicely in the final stages, winding up in seventh place. 

Begg was pleasantly surprised with Nonconformist's victory. 

"Getting on the good track helped him as did the set weights and penalties. It will be a different story at weight-for-age, but he has performed well at weight-for-age before and at 2000 metres." 

Prior to his second-place finish behind Incentivise in the 2021 Caulfield Cup, Nonconformist was beaten a nose by Probabeel in the Group 1 Might And Power Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield. 

Begg said wet tracks thwarted Nonconformist's campaign in the spring and it was a planned decision to send the gelding for a spell straight after finishing 10th in the Caulfield Cup. 

He said the All-Star Mile, run at Moonee Valley on Saturday, was never on the radar. 

"We stopped him after the Caulfield Cup to give him the opportunity to come up nice and well for the Australian Cup," Begg said. 

"The All-Star Mile was never going to be his race, even though he has good form at Moonee Valley. He won the Alister Clark there and he ran fourth in the Feehan, and had no luck, but the profile of the All-Star Mile would never have suited him." 

While Nonconformist would be the pick of his two runners, at this stage, Begg said he would not be surprised if Lunar Flare was around the money at the finish. 

"She did run well first-up. She was smoking up there late," Begg said. 

"She likes Flemington, and she can be a big improver. I would never be surprised with what she can do." 

Begg said Jordan Childs rides Nonconformist while Michael Dee would again partner Lunar Flare.