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    An early clash for two of Menangle’s ‘big guns’ An early clash for two of Menangle’s ‘big guns’

    FIT AND FIRING: Bondi Lockdown.

    METROPOLITAN racing returns to Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night after going into recess over the Christmas-New Year period. The break gave regional centres... An early clash for two of Menangle’s ‘big guns’
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    METROPOLITAN racing returns to Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night after going into recess over the Christmas-New Year period.

    The break gave regional centres the chance to highlight their respective feature races which attracted healthy holiday crowds throughout the state.

    And 2023 saw some fantastic racing at Club Menangle, highlighted by the initial staging of the Eureka, which was won by South Australian mare Encipher.

    Despite only attracting horse numbers to host a seven-race program, the depth of quality on Saturday night is strong.

    The P.J. Hall Free For All is the headline race and it is littered with talented pacers, many of whom are on a path towards some of the feature races programmed for the Menangle carnival in February.

    Sydney’s latest star on the rise, Hi Manameisjeff will look to build on his impressive form in the P.J. Hall, after winning six of his seven starts for leading trainer Jason Grimson.

    His only failure for the stable occurred when he travelled to Melton and obviously did not handle the trip south.

    No doubt connections will be looking to earn a run in the $1million Garrards Miracle Mile on March 9 and to do so, he will need to maintain his current form.

    The gelding burst onto the Sydney scene in August last year when he ran the mile in 1:48.9 and his wins since then have all been strong.

    The Belinda McCarthy-trained Bondi Lockdown is another former Victorian that seems to thrive on racing at Menangle, the stallion is second-up from a spell on Saturday night since winning there on December 2.

    That victory was clinical as after sitting one-out and one-back he hit top gear halfway down the lane to score by just under three metres in 1:50.9.

    His driver Luke McCarthy was pleased with the six-year-old’s return to the winners’ circle and is confident he can build on that leading into next month’s carnival.

    “He was great first-up,” said McCarthy.

    “He had not raced since a disappointing campaign during Queensland’s winter carnival, and he felt really strong in the run.

    “Saturday night’s race will be a good test for him as it is quite a strong field with an abundance of speed in it.”

    Penrith will host a seven-race program tonight where the interesting runner is well-bred filly, Tobefairtoyou in Race 2.

    • MICK DUMESNY

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