• Racing Tips
    All the winners on a bumper 10-race card at Club Menangle All the winners on a bumper 10-race card at Club Menangle

    MIRACLE MILE TIP: Honlua Bay defeats Expensive Ego on last weekend's Alllied Express Sprint.

    RACE ONE: The unbeaten run of BETTERZIPPIT (2), since crossing the Tasman, ended abruptly a week ago, however, the Jason Grimson-trained, former Kiwi, is... All the winners on a bumper 10-race card at Club Menangle

    RACE ONE:

    The unbeaten run of BETTERZIPPIT (2), since crossing the Tasman, ended abruptly a week ago, however, the Jason Grimson-trained, former Kiwi, is poised to bounce back strongly after having no luck. The 5yo opened his career on this side of the ‘ditch’ with a stylish all-the-way win at Ballarat, then was untroubled when successful at Melton. Contesting a slightly harder challenge at Menangle, Betterzippit, courtesy of a kind run behind the leader, finished too well for Reactor Now and Mach Shard. The son of Betterthancheddar was presented with a harder task a week ago, the Miracle Mile qualifying race, the Schweppes Sprint. The form guide will show Betterzippit finishing a 13.5m 9th to Spirit Of St Louis. However, forget he went around as Cam Hart is still searching for a clear passage. Four pegs for the majority of the contest, the 5yo had a wall of horse flesh ahead of him and at no stage was he able to stretch his legs. Ideally drawn in two for the longer trip of 2400m, Betterzippit should start proceedings off on a bright note for punters. ZEUSS BROMAC (5) also contested the Schweppes Sprint and his 10.8m 8th was an acceptable effort. The winner of the Newcastle Cup three starts ago, the consistent 6yo will enjoy both his handy draw and the longer trip so respect his claims. Like Zeuss Bromac, JAY OK (11) is a member of the astute Paul Fitzpatrick team, and although the classy son of A Rocknroll Dance has drawn the outside gate, he can’t be ignored as a serious contender. The 6yo worked home stoutly last week in finishing a 3.7m 3rd to Our Money Rocks and with a suitable run into the contest, Jay OK is capable of producing a number one hit. Classy Kiwi 4yo REPUBLICAN PARTY (8) won the Hondo Grattan when first-up from a spell when making his debut on this side of the Tasman. Little has gone his way in two runs since, the Chariots of Fire and his latest outing a week ago when a respectable 9m 9th to Our Money Rocks. When it comes to the exotics, Republican Party should receive your vote, along with TASTY DELIGHT (6), OUR MONEY ROCKS (1) and PERFECT STRIDE (9).

    BETTERZIPPIT 1, Zeuss Bromac 2, Jay OK 3, Republican Party 4.

    RACE TWO:

    Classy Victorian mare JO AN JO (2) has drawn ideally in what will be a suitable contest to open her latest campaign. The daughter of Bettors Delight ended her previous season of racing with a creditable 11.5m 6th to her outstanding stablemate Amore Vita in the Vicbred 3YO Fillies Final at Melton on Dec 31. The Emma Stewart-conditioned mare trialled in fine fashion at Ballarat recently and  she looks ready to tackle this event with a high degree of confidence. It will be a pleasant break from competing against her numerous, high-profile stablemates. Goulburn mentor Brad Hewitt has been enjoying a good run of late and he will be represented by LOUBOWSKI (4) and ANNA LOVE (1). Both mares commenced their careers in NZ, with LOUBOWSKI creating a big impression in the space of four runs, three resulting in wins, the other a fast-finishing nose 2nd to Punt Away. The daughter of Sweet Lou has drawn suitably so expect a strong showing. ANNA LOVE has also drawn ideally in the pole role, and although confronted by a harder task, compared to her win at Wagga recently, when on debut for Brad, the daughter of Terror To Love did the job in fine fashion. Outside of that particular trio, the race takes on an open appearance with the consistent Ashleigh Delosa-trained PARKED IN HEAVEN (9) worthy of exotic involvement while MACHS LEGANCY (7), JILLIBY ZAGAMI (6), BRIDWOOD BELLA (5) and AALESUND (11) are also in the multiple mix.

    JO AN JO 1, Loubowski 2, Anna Love 3, Parked In Heaven 4.

    RACE THREE:

    Inter Dominion winner JUST BELIEVE (4) has been in superb form since claiming that title. Prepared by Jess Tubbs and to be driven by Greg Sugars, the classy son of Orlando Vici has added the Cochran Trotters Cup, the Great Southern Star and the Australian Trot Grand Prix to his growing list of credits. Suitably drawn the 7yo will be in the mix from the outset and that will ensure that the Victorian take a power of beating, as per usual. The Anton Golino-trained IM READY JET (10) has a win and five placings from her seven starts since a spell, with a number of those placings behind Just Believe. Despite the presence of a wide gate, the talented daughter of Quaker Jet appeals as a potential threat. HOPEFUL BEAUTY (9), which is also a talented mare under the care of Golino, is coming off sound form and the 6yo is capable of being in the mix, despite also drawing wide. Boasting the greatest number of wins at Menangle (27), local hero TOUGH MONARCH (1) is bound to make his presence known from the outset. The veteran resumed with a dominant

    All-the-way win, when perfectly rated by his mentor Rickie Alchin. This will be a harder challenge for the veteran, but he strips fitter and draws ideally, so he must be respected. VAN SANK (7) is coming off a gritty win and is capable of being in the finish while MAJESTIC HARRY (3) didn’t have a lot of luck when a creditable 4th to Van Sank so include the 6yo in the multiple mix. ALDEBARAN ZEUS (2), DON’T CARE (11) and CREDIT MASTER (12), despite being below his best since a spell, all warrant exotic attention.

    JUST BELIEVE 1, Im Ready Jet 2, Hopeful Beauty 3, Tough Monarch 4.

    RACE FOUR:

    The Waratah Final is overflowing with chances, and the draw has certainly added to the degree of difficulty. Despite drawing the outside gate, BLAZING BANNER (11) appeals as the one to beat. A member of the successful Brad Hewitt team at Goulburn, the 4yo son of Rock N Roll Heaven opened his latest term of racing with back-to-back wins on the Wagga track, prior to starting in the ‘red’ when he appeared at this venue a few weeks ago. Striking some trouble, Blazing Banner worked home stoutly, without threatening in recording a 7.4m 8th to Don’t Need An Excuse. Well, Blazing Banner had an excuse and he quickly made amends at his next start when too good for Im Bruce Almighty and Bosch at Goulburn. With Brad’s team enjoying plenty of success in recent months, Blazing Banner is capable of keeping the ‘good times’ coming. Also enjoying plenty of success is Amanda Turnbull and the star Bathurst trainer-driver has two definite contenders in SMOOTH OVERARM (8) and ALTA BILLY (9). Isobel Ross will take the reins behind Smooth Overarm who has been racing consistently and with a useful record here, the 8yo son of Changeover is bound to give a good account. ALTA BILLY is coming off wins at Blayney and Bathurst, each time dictating the terms after working early. A wide gate awaits the pair but it is hard to go past them as contenders. SHADES OF HEAVEN (6) scored in fine fashion at Wagga last time out so don’t ignore him while SPORTINGJOY (7) is due for a change of luck following a run of minor placings. IM QUICK AS FIRE (5) and PIPPO NIEN (4) remains in the mix when it comes to the multiples.

    BLAZING BANNER 1, Smooth Overarm 2, Alta Billy 3, Shades Of Heaven 4.

    RACE FIVE:

    Bathurst-based BETTER BE THE BEST (8) has the chance to be exactly, and in the process, add his name to the NSW Derby Honour Roll. Trained and driven by Nathan Turnbull, the son of Shoobees Place will face the starter as the winner of eight of his 12 starts, with a couple of runner-up roles included. Ending his first season of racing with the NSW Blue 2YO C&G’s title, the colt resumed on his home track on Feb 15, and despite opposing older rivals and doing a power of work, Better The Best treated his rivals with contempt. Next stop was Menangle a week ago, with a heat of the NSW Derby on the agenda. Beginning well and obtaining the role behind the leader, Better Be The Best was poised to strike as heads were turned for home. However, the opportunity to do so, didn’t eventuate until late. All, too late. Baulked when attempting a tight inside run, Better Be The Best didn’t gain momentum until the final stages in finishing a 4m 2nd to Naturally Gifted. He did look a ‘good thing’ beaten. From a wider gate Nathan will be able to ‘eye-off’ a suitable trip in the running line, and if that does unfold that way, then Better Be The Best will be paying a trip to the winners’ circle. However, the classy Kiwi, ALTA METEOR (2) will be a tough opponent after the Stephen and Amanda Telfer-trained son of Art Major drew ideally in two. Receiving a kind, three-peg role from the outset, Tim Williams timed his run to perfection with Alta Meteor, with the pair hitting the line strongly in accounting for Rocknroll Hammer and Dangerous. The gelding enjoyed the testing 2400m and with the prospect of being in the mix from the outset, probably in a stalking role, Alta Meteor will take a power of beating. Former Kiwi SPIRIT OF ARION (1) has shown plenty of potential since joining the Belinda McCarthy team. After debuting for the stable with a comfortable all-the-way win at Newcastle, the Sweet Lou colt drew wide for his heat outing, resulting in a three wide trip, prior to Jack Callaghan securing the one-one. In a thrilling three-way finish, Spirit Of Arion was grabbed in the final couple of strides by Catalpa Rescue, which tracked him into the race. With gate one a big plus and a higher level of fitness, Spirit Of Arion will make his presence felt. DANGEROUS (5) dictated the terms when a gritty 3rd behind Alta Meteor and Rocknroll Hammer. The talented Sweet Lou colt has now been placed at his past two Menangle assignments, with his mentor Shane Sanderson confident that Dangerous will again be in the mix for a long way, so expect his son Ryan to go in search of the lead role once again. CATALPA RESCUE (11), which is also prepared by Shane, continues to fly under the radar and despite the bad draw, the son of American Ideal can’t be taken lightly. With Ryan required to drive Dangerous, sister Abby will jump back into the bike. SWEETHWEART BART (9) was responsible for a solid 6.3m 3rd to Naturally Gifted, and although confronted by a tricky draw, Luke McCarthy will find a way to have him ready to issue a challenge when things get serious.

    BETTER BE THE BEST 1, Alta Meteor 2, Spirit Of Arion 3, Dangerous 4.

    RACE SIX:

    The G2 FFA has attracted a star-studded field, with a number of the runners more than capable of filling a role in the Miracle Mile field. One runner which was expected to be in the main event was BONDI LOCKDOWN (8). Resuming from a spell and for his new mentor, Belinda McCarthy, the 5yo hit the line strongly in finishing a 3.5m 2nd to his new stablemate, Spirit Of St Louis. Posting a strong win at his next assignment, when he proved too good for Torrid Saint and Whereyabinboppin, the son of Somebeachsomewhere was expected to take out the Schweppes Sprint after drawing the pole. Securing the one-one, Bondi Lockdown kept grinding away down the running, but found Spirit Of St Louis and Hurricane Harley superior, with Jack Callaghan stealing the race with middle sectionals of 30.8 and 29.0, before zipping home in a 25.8. That was the telling point of the race. This time around the trip is 2400m and that will suit Bondi Lockdown, who now strips in peak condition. I CAST NO SHADOW (11) also contested the above-mentioned race, and from a midfield role the Shadow Play chestnut also found it difficult to be a contender. The end was a gritty 9m 4th, with the Inter Dominion missing out of the chance to secure the ‘big double’. The 7yo will also appreciate the longer trip, despite the wide gate. MAJOR MEISTER (6) was responsible for an outstanding effort in the Allied Express Sprint, with the Art Major 6yo hitting the line with intent, resulting in a 4.3m 3rd to Honolua Bay and Expensive Ego. The classy gelding is on the reserves bench for the Miracle Mile, but he will go close to receiving some compensation with a win here. BETTER ECLIPSE (1) lost all chance to stake his claim for a spot in the Miracle Mile when he went off stride at the start, resulting in an enormous amount of lost metres. Finishing a distant last to Honolua Bay, the Jess Tubbs-trained 5yo was ordered back to the trials, with the son of Betterthancheddar doing everything right in posting an impressive win at Menangle on Tuesday. From gate one expect Better Eclipse to be a serious threat. B D JOE (2) scored here three runs back in fine fashion, but the classy Kiwi hasn’t had much go his way since, finishing unplaced in the Newcastle Mile and the Schweppes Sprint. Don’t ignore his claims especially when it comes to exotic transactions. Others worthy of including when it comes to the multiples include TRIPLE EIGHT (7), PETES SAID SO (3) and PINNY TIGER (5).

    BONDI LOCKDOWN 1, I Cast No Shadow 2, Better Eclipse 4.

    RACE SEVEN.

    Selecting the winner of the past three Miracle Mile’s has been easier, courtesy of King Of Swing. However, now that the ‘King’ has abdicated the throne, the 2023 version appears far more open, maybe, more so, then the market would suggest. There is little between HONOLUA BAY (4) and SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (2) and the two young guns’, the emerging super-stars, CATCH A WAVE (5) and CAPTAIN RAVISHING (9). Record-breaking mentor Emma Stewart, along with co-trainer Clayton Tonkin, have added another outstanding achievement to their already list of achievements, by preparing four of the eight runners and, moving forward, that will take some beating. One of those runners is HONOLUA BAY (4), which has drawn suitably, plus, and more importantly, is racing in the peak of his powers. An outstanding 5m 4th to I Cast No Shadow in the Inter Dominion Final, was followed by a gallant and slightly unlucky 2.8m 2nd to Copy That in the Ballarat Cup. The classy son of Somebeachsomewhere was then rewarded, and rightly so, when he produced a big effort in taking out the prestigious Hunter Cup (2760m). Coming back to the sprint trip just three weeks later, and the 6yo produced a stylish display in coming from the rear of the field in taking out the Allied Express Sprint, powering past 2021 Miracle Mile runner-up Expensive Ego, with Major Meister also working home strongly in grabbing third. Driver David Moran will again partner the sparingly-raced Honolua Bay, and he will be hoping that a change of luck in the ‘great race’ will result in a trip to the winners’ circle. David has been runner-up to King Of Swing on two occasions, firstly with his star Lochinvar Art in 2020, then a year later when driving Expensive Ego for ‘Team McCarthy’. Gate three will be appealing for Honolua Bay and he is deserving of being tagged, ‘the one to beat’. Drawing ideally in gate one, which is less the first reserve, SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (2) will have the necessary options to be a serious threat. Rated to perfection by star reinsman Jack Callaghan in the Schweppes Sprint, the classy 6yo son of Sweet Lou was untroubled in accounting for Hurricane Harley and Bondi Lockdown, courtesy of a couple of comfortable middle sectionals, which allowed Spirit Of St louis to dash home in a 25.8 final 400m. The opportunity to again dictate will be a definite option for Jack as he looks to go one better on last year’s result when the ‘King’ ruled over his subjects. On paper it would appear that EXPENSIVE EGO (10) is a level below what he is capable of producing. However, throughout the Inter Dominion and subsequent assignments, the 2021 runner-up hasn’t been disgraced, as little has gone the way of the 6yo son of Rock N Roll Heaven. Last week in the Allied Express Sprint, Expensive Ego was bumped at the start, which resulted in Luke taking hold to keep him balanced, then from a three wide role he worked during a 26.4 opening quarter, finding the lead with 800m to run. Despite the extra work load, Expensive Ego stole a break on his rivals soon after straightening and it did take a big effort, and an impressive one at that, by Honolua Bay to lower his colours. The outside gate will await Expensive Ego; however, Luke McCarthy is a ‘big time’ driver and the assignments don’t come any bigger than a Miracle Mile. Luke has never lost faith in Expensive Ego and at the generous quote on offer, neither should his fans. The two emerging starts in CAPTAIN RAVISHING (9) and CATCH A WAVE (5) will create a great deal of excitement leading into the race and on the track. However, this time around they ‘won’t be able to do the ‘bullying’ as the hard-nosed, older boys won’t be pushed around. But, they are exciting prospects, who are more than capable of greeting the judge. CAPTAIN RAVISHING was game in defeat when CATCH A WAVE accounted for him in the Chariots of Fire. But the opening 400n (26) had a lot to do with the Emma Stewart-trained 4yo being vulnerable over the final stages, as his desire to hold the inside running and the lead was, first and foremost. Drawn wide and with the prospect of sitting off the speed and watching everything unfold, will allow Captain Ravishing to make full use of his explosive speed. CATCH A WAVE (5) has drawn suitably and Kate Gath will be keen to be involved in the thick of the action from the outset. This will be one of the mostly keenly contested Miracle Miles, from the moment starter Todd Clarke activates the green light, and right up until the moment the judge calls a halt to the ultimate test of speed and stamina.

    HONOLUA BAY 1, Spirit Of St Louis 2, Expensive Ego 3, Captain Ravishing 4.

    RACE EIGHT:

    Like his stablemate in the first, Betterzippit, the Jason-Grimson-conditioned SICARIO (10) left the track last week with a hard luck story to tell. And, like Betterzippit, the former glamour horse is still looking to secure a clear run. Following a deep draw, which again applies, the 8yo son of Somebeachsomewhere was restrained by Cam Hart, with a four peg role coming their way. But that’s where the story starts and ends, as Sicario failed to stretch his legs down the running, with a 4m 4th behind Our Money Rocks being the end result. The longer trip will be a plus for Sicario, and although meeting an outstanding array of talent, Sicario is more than capable of getting the job done. MACH SHARD (8) keeps turning up, week in and week out, and posting solid efforts. That was the case last time out when he again worked home stoutly in recording a 7.3m 3rd to Betterzippit and Reactor Now a couple of weeks ago. Although he doesn’t win out of turn these days, the 8yo son of Mach Three won’t be far away when the judge calls a halt. JILLIBY KUNG FU (7), like Mach Shard, is under the care of Belinda McCarthy, and although the former star has been a shade disappointing in his past two starts, the 9yo is too good to ignore as one of the major contenders. THE BLACK PRINCE (5) dug deep is scoring last time out with Major Jellis giving him a run for his money. Although a level below the form which resulted in a Miracle Mile appearance, 2021 in finishing 4th to King Of Swing, the Roy Roots Jnr-trained 8yo is still a tough opponent. FIRE FOX (9) has been placed in four of his past five starts, the most recent being a 3.2m 3rd to Bundoran and Huli Nien at Headquarters on Tuesday when always prominent. The 6yo remains in the multiple mix, along with the ultra-consistent SUMOMENTSOMEWHERE (4), despite the step up in grade.

    SICARIO 1, Mach Shard 2, Jilliby Kung Fu 3, The Black Prince 4.

    RACE NINE:

    The G3 Sapling Stakes is a lottery, with the entire field having commenced their careers with a pleasing display while the draw hasn’t made it any easier. However, the Victorian visitor HAMMER DAN (2) did look above-average on debut and the draw has been kind. Trained and driven by Nathan Jack, Hammer Dan led in proving too good for Chart Topper and Remi Lou, with the latter producing a big effort here a week ago, which resulted in a fast-finishing 2nd to the promising prospect Lux Aeterna in the Pink Bonnet. The youngster will then have the ideal opportunity to stamp his authority on the race from the outset, and that will pave the way for the son of Vincent to enjoy success under the ‘starry, starry night.’ Looming as a threat is TOMAHAWK BART (4) who steps out as the runner-up of both his starts to date, the latter when he attempted to lead throughout over this course and distance a couple of weeks ago, with Wipeout proving a shade too good over the final stages. Expect a bold showing from the Sweet Lou colt from the good draw. SOHO SPECTRE (8) is a member of the in-form Rickie Alchin stable and that in itself means that the Art Major colt warrants respect. The colt led for a comfortable win at Newcastle on debut, and although a wider gate awaits, plus a harder task, Soho Spectre looks to be a promising type. LETTUCE NIPYA (11) is also coming off a solid display in scoring on debut at Wagga for Brad Hewitt. Despite the tough gate the son of Tintin In America remains in the top bracket of chances. WIPEOUT (12) and BEACHRIDE (10) also opened their accounts with gritty winning displays while HARMONY (1) will enjoy gate one so expect the Vincent colt to show further improvement on his debut run.

    HAMMER DAN 1, Tomahawk Bart 2, Soho Spectre 3, Lettuce Nipya 4.

    RACE 10:

    Coming to the last and there is no time like now to wrap up proceedings on a winning note. So, NO TIME LIKE NOW (5) should assist in providing such a result, following two creditable runs for Belinda McCarthy since crossing the Tasman. Boasting a handy record before leaving home, the 5yo son of Johny Rock opened his career on this side of the Tasman with a solid 7.7m 2nd behind Carousel winner Port Au Prince, prior to a gritty 10m 3rd to Jimartee and Ripp. With the benefit of those two runs lifting his level of fitness to an acceptable level, No Time Like Now has the chance to greet the judge. BLAZING HOME (11) contested a heat of the NSW Derby a week ago, with a perfect record, eight starts for eight wins. Always prominent, the David Kennedy-trained 3yo battled on stoutly in posting a pleasing 7.5m 4th to Alta Meteor. Beaten, but from being disgraced in what was his toughest test to dare. The outside gate is a concern, along with competing against older rivals, however, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven has the ability to make his presence felt. MY ULTIMATE BYRON (7) is coming off a welcome return to winning form and he is capable of giving this s shake while ELEKTRA (9) doesn’t how to run a bad race so don’t ignore the mare. FIFTEEN ACES (1), MY ULTIMATE JOHNNY (2) and THE STAIN (3) and ROCK OF DELIGHT (6) all remain in the mix when it comes to multiple transactions.

    NO TIME LIKE NOW 1, Blazing Home 2, My Ultimate Byron 3, Elektra 4.

      – FORM ASSESSED BY MIKE KO’CASS

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