September 11, 2020 Michael Court
Akin to a heavyweight champion throwing his best punch from the outset in the hope of a quick knock-out, Club Menangle have elected to open the card with their main weapon, KING OF SWING (11), with the Miracle Mile champ stepping out for a first-round win, and in the process extend his winning run to seven. The chance to showcase one of the best pacers in the southern hemisphere, just minutes after the two big thoroughbred meetings finish their commitments, is a huge plus. And, if that isn’t enough, about 15 minutes later another star in RIDE HIGH will face the starter for race two on the Terang card. With the surprise news that Kima Frenning has elected to retire, as far as, taking the reins is concerned and focus on a career as a trainer, means Ride High will have a new partner. Someone is going to be a very lucky driver. But, back to KING OF SWING who has posted to comfortable wins since his capturing the Miracle Mile title. With his level of fitness going to another level, the 5yo will head around to the start as the one to beat, and, barring something out of the ordinary, greeting the judge for the 26th time in his career appears a formality. Waiting in the wins to spoil the party are two of his stablemates, BALRAJ (10) the new kid on the block who is looking to show he belongs, and the established champ, BLING IT ON (8), who is also looking to extend his legacy and become a sire of future stars. BALRAJ is up and running, with a first-up win for the Cross stable, followed by a second to Zennart on August 29 when he led and raced keenly, setting-up a blistering time for the 2300m and a record-breaking mile rate of 1:51.4. With the run taking the edge off him, the classy 4yo son of Art Major should settle better this time around and with the prospect of taking cover, likely behind King Of Swing, that will leave him with energy to finish the 2300m in a strong frame of mind. BLING IT ON has been off the scene since a trio of unplaced efforts back in February and March, culminating in a 10.5m 9th to Our Uncle Sam in the 2400m G1 feature event on Miracle Mile night. The 9yo has trialled well and is bound to be competitive, but the run will do him the world of good. Outside of the Cross team, the classy Roy Roots Jnr-trained THE BLACK PRINCE (3) will give a good account. The 5yo has also trialled strongly in readiness for his first outing since posting a 5.4m 5th to Little Rascal over this course and distance on July 18. Nicely drawn, which will give Tom Ison the chance to secure a role close to the action, The Black Prince will be an ideal player for exotic investors. As per usual, the fast-class will be overflowing with Cross runners and when it comes to the multiples both MOTU GATECRASHER (7) and POCKET OF TERROR (5) appear the pair most likely to add value to the exotic.
KING OF SWING 1, Balraj 2, Bling It On 3, The Black Prince 4.
After ending his previous term of racing with five-consecutive wins and seven wins from his past nine appearances, the Steve Turnbull-trained stable star in ATOMIC RED (7) has been below his best, although, in each of his three Menangle assignments the 6yo hasn’t had a great deal of luck. Those three races were taken out by Replaced Eye and cash N Flow (twice) and each time Atomic Red was exposed in the breeze and when the races are completed in 1:50.7 and below, that is a tough assignment. After showing a return to winning form in a suitable Bathurst assignment on August 5, Atomic Red then finished a 19.3m 4th to Cash N Flow before trying hard in finishing 6th to the ‘Menangle Mauler’ last week, a creditable 14.6m from the speedster. The son of Rocknroll Hanover will appreciate the 2300m and also the fact he will face the starter without Cash N Flow being there. This should be a suitable assignment for the Bathurst visitor. OUR WALL STREET WOLF (10) was far from disgraced when a 15.6m 7th to King Of Swing two starts back, prior to working when a gritty 6.4m 5th to Makoa a week ago. The 6yo is likely to enjoy this trip so don’t dismiss him as a major player. MATCH IN HEAVEN (9) has finished third in three of his past four encounters, and although a wide gate comes into play, the 7yo is bound to make a play for the top spot. The Paul Fitzpatrick-conditioned entire was hitting the line with intent last week in posting a 3.6m 3rd to Makoa. Match In Heaven doesn’t win out of turn these days, and his turn may be fast-approaching once again. From his good draw BOHANNAN (3) has the chance to be in the mix while the KerryAnn Morris trio, AZTEC BROMAC (4), VAN MARA (5) and PEMBROOKS PASSION (6) are more than capable of figuring in the finish. Of the trio VAN MARA appeals as the one to loom as the biggest threat as the 7yo did a good job when first-up from a spell in posting a 16.3m 3rd to Golden Year on Aug 31. FOUROEIGHT (11) has drawn the outside gate and while that is a hurdle, the 7yo will find this task more to his likely, compared to chasing Cash N Flow home last week, en route to a pleasing 10.3m fifth.
ATOMIC RED 1, Our Wall Street Wolf 2, Match In Heaven 3, Bohannan 4.
Another Steve Turnbull-trained runner in CONVICTION (3) is worth the gamble in a race of many chances. The son of For a Reason has drawn ideally and his level of fitness has been enhanced by a 17.6m 6th to Fouroeight at Bathurst on August 19, his first engagement three months. On that particular occasion, Conviction did a power of work three wide before occupying the role outside of the leader. The last time Conviction greeted the judge was over the 1609m of the Menangle track on February 15 when he proved too good for Little Rascal and Replaced Eye. That pair have won since in better company, with Replaced Eye posting a number of outstanding efforts in races won by Cash N Flow and King Of Swing. There is no doubting that the Bathurst visitor has the talent to play a major role in the finish. LIVING AGAIN (4) has been off his game in recent months, mainly due to being involved in races won by his star stablemates in Balraj, King Of Swing and Cash N Flow. But, that has also seen him unplaced in far easier assignments, again won by stablemates in Motu Gatecrasher and Vandanta, the latter a week ago when a 20.4m eighth. This time around he is the lone Craig Cross runner and also the task does appear far more suitable, with the longer trip also a plus. Suitably drawn, Living Again may feel exactly that in this company so expect a far more competitive showing. SMOKEY QUARTZ (5) has finished runner-up in two of his four starts this preparation, with his latest engagement ending with a creditable 12.8m 6th to Our Triple Play a couple of weeks ago. The 9yo son of Courage Under Fire hasn’t greeted the judge since last November, but the Lucky Lodge entrant has the chance to give this event a big shake. LOORRIM CREEK (7) has been thereabouts in each of his past two and in an open race the 7yo isn’t the roughest. When forming exotic combinations, UNCLE JAY (1), LEFT TENNANT (6) and TRALEE BROMAC (8) are worthy of attention.
CONVICTION 1, Living Again 2, Smokey Quartz 3, Loorrim Creek 4.
The G3 Success Stud challenge will feature the classy Anthony Butt trained and driven WOLF STRIDE (10) and despite the presence of a wide gate and a number of quality opponents, the classy 4yo should continue on his winning way. Like Cash N Flow and King Of Swing, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven hasn’t tasted the bitterness of defeat for some time and this rare situation that involves a number of horses with, extending winning runs, with the Victorian Ride High also in that category, continues to attract plenty of attention. Wolf Stride was having his first outing since ending his previous campaign with a G3 win, when he managed to ‘fall’ in by a narrow margin in defeating Lets Katchmeifucan and Arrokeefe last week. However, it was his first run in nearly four months and they did make him earn every dollar of the prizemoney on offer. Left exposed outside of the leader, the mile was clocked-off in 1:51.3, with three of the sectionals completed in 27.0, 27.7 and 27.4. And, to his credit, Wolf Stride refused to throw in the towel, electing to remain in the fight. Wolf Stride will strip fitter and the bay has shown he can win from various roles so Butt will allow the dust to settle before showing his hand. While Wolf Stride is entitled to top billing, this is a perfection situation where you back one and save on the another. The ‘saver’ is RED REACTOR (3) which posted an eye-catching effort when first up from New Zealand. Now under the care of David Thorn, who was glowing in his praise for the 5yo son of Auckland Reactor on Club Menangle TV during the week, Red Reactor came from a four peg role in just failing to land a big plunge in finishing 2nd to Petes Said So. Suitably drawn and with the benefit of his first Menangle experience, Red Reactor has the necessary gate speed to make things interesting from the outset. ROCKITA (6) is racing in the best form of her career, with three wins and a gritty 2nd to No Win No Feed included in her four assignments for the Craig Cross stable. The 6yo mare faces a tougher test this time around, but she will no doubt give a good account. STAR MAJOR (8) covered more territory than the Leyland Brothers last week when he finished a determined 2.5m 3rd to Rockita. The James Rattray trained and driven son of Art Major will strip fitter for his second run from a spell and he should be included in exotic transactions. LETS GO TO BRAZIL (1) and PETES SAID SO (2) have ideal draws and that should entice exotic players to include them in their combinations.
WOLF STRIDE 1, Red Reactor 2, Rockita 3, Star Major 4.
It is hard to go past the classy mare NO WIN NO FEED (9), with the Craig Cross-trained daughter of A Rocknroll Dance taking a higher level of fitness into this assignment. Following a hat-trick of winning displays at Headquarters, No Win No Feed ended her previous term of racing with a 16m 6th to Pitch Perfect in a G3 assignment on June 20. With the benefit of a couple of months away from competitive racing, No Win No Feed resumed two weeks ago with a typical, stylish all-the-way win over the 1609m of the Menangle track, with stablemate Rockita claiming second spot while the consistent Renegade Rose clocked in third. The mare will launch her claim from gate eight, which a couple of spots closer to the pegs than last time out. That will again allow Luke McCarthy to go in search of the lead role, although if that scenario doesn’t unfold, No Win No Feed is more than capable of playing the ‘waiting’ game before launching with a winning run. AIR TIME (2), who is also under the care of Cross, has drawn nicely and he should secure a role close to the action. The 7yo worked home stoutly last start when a closing 2.2m 2nd to Golden Year, who has struck a purple patch of form. The prospect of obtaining a ‘stalking’ role will certainly enhance the claims of Air Time. TIMES STRIDE (5) had been racing consistently prior to his 11m 8th to Petes Said So last week. After drawing the outside gate and racing back in the pack, the 5yo worked home steadily out deep on the track and with the benefit of a far better draw, the 5yo is capable of playing an active role in the finish. COLLEGE CHAPEL (6) has been disappointing in each of his past two starts, the first when an 18.8m 9th to We salute You while the latter resulted in an 11.6m 5th to Beetson at Bathurst just under a month ago. The former star juvenile trialled nicely at Bathurst on Monday and if he could show a return to form, there is no doubt the 4yo could make things interesting for his rivals. Ideally drawn in gate one, CHAPTER ONE (1) is looking to complete a hat-trick of wins after scoring here on Tuesday. With the gate speed to take advantage of the draw, the 8yo is capable of giving plenty of cheek if Robert Morris elects to dictate the terms once again. RUSTY CRACKERS (4) is performing soundly and is worthy of exotic involvement while ESCALERA (7), TWO PLY (11) and DEE DOUBLE YOU (3) are also in the mix when looking at exotic combinations.
NO WIN NO FEED 1, Air Time 2, Times Stride 3, College Chapel 4.
This appears to be an ideal assignment for the John McCarthy trained and driven filly RENEGADE ROSE (2). With gate one a huge plus in an open race, the quality filly has the chance to secure a kind run behind the speed, leaving her with plenty of energy to issue a strong challenge over the final 300m. After arriving with a consistent record in NZ, Renegade Rose scored first-up for the stable on August 4, with her subsequent three runs all resulting in determined placings, with Mach Da Vinci, Bettor Enforce and No Win No Feed. It would be safe to say that that particular trio would take a power of beating here. HELD TO RANSOM (5) is bound to create attention as this former Kiwi mare continues to step up in grade. The daughter of Live Or Die scored by 18.7m in leading throughout on debut, then Robbie Morris again dictated the terms when the 5yo easily accounted for Bella Clare and Jewels Stride. Suitably drawn, Held To Ransom will again leave the machine with plenty of intent. Whether Morris holds the lead or takes a sit will depend on MAN HANDS (10) and whether the mare will be keen to take a firm grip on the role of pacemaker. That was the case on Tuesday however, she was pressured throughout and faded to finish back in eighth spot. DRACARYS (11) has drawn badly out wide but the mare is racing well and Ashley Hart will give her every chance to succeed. After leading throughout in defeating Make Mine Heaven and Tralee Bromac, the Bettors Delight mare struck trouble when a solid 2.9m 4th to Bettor Enforce on August 22. There is no doubt that Dracarys has the talent to test this field. WHA HAE (3) is a model of consistency and with a perfect draw next to her name, the daughter of Mach Three won’t be far away when the judge calls a halt. MAN HANDS (10) has been below her best of late, but her best would certainly be good enough to see her giving this a big shake, particularly if she led and was allowed to stride freely without any pressure being applied. ROCK ON (8) has been thereabouts of late and could be the value exotic player.
RENEGADE ROSE 1, Held To Ransom 2, Dracarys 3, Wha Hae 4.
This race is a lottery with any number of chances, mainly due to the lack of winning form. ISLAND BANNER (2) resumed from a spell on a winning note but has very little since, with a second to Man Hands four starts ago being the best of her subsequent seven trips to the races. The Craig Cross-trained mare has been drawing wide so the chance to begin this assignment from gate two is a big plus for the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven. Island Banner was never a factor last time out when she finished last to Dance For Glory, 13 metres from the winner. The draw will give Luke McCarthy the opportunity to place the 5yo in the thick of the action, with the potential to dictate being a distinct possibility. Such a role would see Island Banner going a long way towards greeting the judge. PROPHESY (7) has been in the mix on a regular basis with her latest effort resulting in a metre 3rd to Colossal Stride on Tuesday. This is a contest well-within her reach so respect her claims. JAKES SPORTWRITER (10) has drawn the outside gate but the Leon Jurd-trained 6yo can’t be taken lightly, despite mixing his form. Following a creditable 7.5m 5th to Golden Year last Saturday, Jakes Sportwriter backed-up on Tuesday with an unlucky 1/2 head 2nd to Ideal Warrior, with the son of Sportwriter charging home late along the pegs. HARRY TURBO (4) brings solid country form to the table and from his good draw the Brooke McPherson-trained 6yo could be a threat. Trainer Mark Callaghan has two runners in LACEYS LAD (1) and GLENN FORD (3) are both have exotic prospects, along with BETTOR TO BE TRICKY (8) and BETTOR BE LUCKY (9). I’m not sure which one it is better to be, but include the pair in the multiples.
ISLAND BANNER 1, Prophesy 2, Jakes Sportwriter 3, Harry Turbo 4.
After spending the past four months or so in hibernation, Pheasants Nest mentor Darren Hancock has emerged from the wilderness, which commenced here on Tuesday, with the star of his team, DROP THE HAMMER (10) looking to nail a first-up win, despite the presence of the outside gate. The classy trotter has contested 48 races, with Menangle being the scene of 44 of those assignments. His total of 17 wins have all been recorded at this venue, along with 13 of his 14 placings, so he does enjoy racing at Headquarters. Drop The Hammer has been off the scene since a costly 15m 6th to Majestic Courtney on May 20. The 5yo hasn’t been seen at the public trials, but Hancock will have the gelding ready for action and his class will take him a long way towards another win. Like her stablemate, MONARO MIA (6) returns to racing without a trial. The mare completed her latest term with four unplaced efforts however, in the process the 5yo wasn’t disgraced in finishing just behind the placegetters. While Drop The Hammer should take a power of beating, Monaro Mia is bound to be in the mix when the judge calls a halt. NEEDABACARDI (5) has his supporters heading to the bar when he decided to go off stride and lose all chance as one of the main players in the race won by More Shades Of Gold a couple of weeks ago. He also sent the fans of Adelle packing as he knocked the favourite out of business as well. The 6yo did everything right in scoring at his previous start and he is entitled to another chance. MAJOR THOMAS (9) worked home steadily from a deep peg role when a 7.9m 7th to Flingandwingit last week and his previous form being of a consistent standard, the 6yo should again figure in exotic investments. CONON BRIDGE (2) is coming off a useful effort and from the good draw he appeals as a value chance for the multiples. GOLD SOVEREIGN (8) and HOTJANE BLING (7), who is proving harder to follow than a shopping trolley, also have exotic prospects.
DROP THE HAMMER 1, Monaro Mia 2, Needabacardi 3, Major Thomas 4.