The Darren Weir trained Andrea Mantegna has firmed into favouritism in the betting for the 2018 Group 3 $250,000 Sky Racing Launceston Cup (2400m) at Launceston today.

Pretty Punk, above, is one of the main chances in the 2018 Launceston Cup in Tasmania. Photo by Jenny Barnes.

Pretty Punk, above, is one of the main chances in the 2018 Launceston Cup in Tasmania. Photo by Jenny Barnes.

In a hotly contest battle for the top spot in the market order at, Andrea Mantegna has had plenty of support with bookies shortening his price in from $6 to be the race morning favourite at $4.60.

The top weight and rival Victorian stayer from the John Sadler stable, Berisha, also has plenty of followers, firming in from $5 to be hot on the heels of Andrea Mantegna at $4.80 with Hobart Cup winner Pretty Punk also in the contest at $5.

Andrea Mantegna was a winner two starts back in a 2250m BenchMark 82 Handicap at Morphettville Parks in Adelaide on January 27 before running second to Launceston Cup rival Pretty Punk in the Group 3 $250,000 Sky Racing Hobart Cup (2400m) at Hobart on February 11.

Damian Lane will again ride Andrea Mantegna who has drawn midfield at barrier nine in the sixteen horse Launceston Cup field while Pretty Punk will jump from gate two with apprentice Ben Allen retaining the mount.

Weir will also saddle up Bondeiger who is also in contention in the betting at $7 and Regan Bayliss will be able to give the six year old the run of the race from barrier three.

Berisha hasn’t won a race since taking out the 2016 Listed $300,000 Mornington Cup (2400m) at Mornington but Sadler’s travelling foreman Ernie Marchant said that the injury plagued six year old was ready to break the drought.

“The horse travelled over really well and ate everything in his feed bin from the moment he arrived at his yard at Bill Ryan’s stables here in Longford,” Marchant told the Tasracing News Desk.

“This horse is clearly the class runner in the field and John (Sadler) was extremely happy with his run in the Colac Cup with such a big weight and now that he has travelled so well to Tasmania we are very confident he can run a huge race on Wednesday.”

Berisha will jump from barrier ten with Mark Zahra taking over the reins from Jamie Mott who was aboard the six year old last start for a second in the $50,000 Colac Cup (2000m) at Colac on February 11.

The Barry Campbell trained Eastender (barrier 5) is the best chance the locals have of keeping the Launceston Cup winning trophy in Tasmania and is marked at $9 in the betting coming off a last start  seventh to Pretty Punk in the Hobart Cup for Craig Newitt.

Newitt rides again today and the pair have combined for two wins from their last four starts, the latest win being two runs back in a 2100m Handicap at Hobart on January 12.

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