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    An in-depth guide to backing a winner at Menangle Saturday night An in-depth guide to backing a winner at Menangle Saturday night

    LOOKS A WINNER: Funky Monkey

    RACE ONE: Despite drawing the biggest number, classy 4yo BAD TO THE BONE (11) is still entitled to top billing. A member of the... An in-depth guide to backing a winner at Menangle Saturday night

    RACE ONE:

    Despite drawing the biggest number, classy 4yo BAD TO THE BONE (11) is still entitled to top billing. A member of the in-form Paul Fitzpatrick team, Bad To The Bone has won three of his past four while recording a photo 2nd behind Escalera two starts ago when the winner grabbed him in the final stride. Following that determined performance, the son of Bettors Delight overcame a wide gate in defeating Iolanta and La Bella Vita, with the Belinda McCarthy pair set to fight out the finish of the final event on the card. Should have mentioned a ‘spoiler alert’ first. Since arriving from NZ, Bad To The Bone has enjoyed the racing on this side of the Tasman and although the draw is a concern, the winning post will again be associated with his name. Five starts ago THE MUSTANG (6) did a fine job in recording a 6.4m 5th to Expensive Ego in the G1 Chariots Of Fire. On the strength of that performance the Bernie Hewitt-trained son of Changeover should have at least, grabbed a win or two in his subsequent four outings. But the 4yo has been thereabouts without greeting the judge. Instead, The Mustang has been a shade disappointing, although, his effort at Wagga in a heat of the Riverina Championship has placed him back in the ‘good books’. Working to the strongly, the $34.00 posted a 3.2m 3rd behind the classy Max Delight. If it isn’t another ‘tease’ from The Mustang, and he can back that run up with a similar effort, then he will be a definite threat. SUMMIT SPECIAL (3) is also in the mix after drawing ideally, just two away from the pegs if the reserve isn’t required. Following a hat-trick of solid placings, the son of Mr Feelgood started favourite when punters did feel too good watching him post an 8.6m 8th to Vandanta. The David Thorn-trained and Blake Fitzpatrick driven 6yo is worthy of another chance. VANDANTA (8) strikes a harder task, compared to his latest win, but the Christian Cullen 6yo is bound to give another good account. Another threat will come from MARTY MAJOR (9) who managed to lead throughout in scoring here a month ago when he comfortably accounted for Bettor Vision and Vinny Chase. This will be a tougher test but that won’t prevent him from giving plenty of cheek. Exotic players should consider APHORISM (10), DOUBLE ENCOUNTER (5) and ALWAYS ROCKIN (4) when placing an investment.

    BAD TO THE BONE 1, The Mustang 2, Summit Special 3, Vandanta 4.

    RACE TWO:

    With a confidence-boosting win next to his name, along with a wide gate, WATCH LIST (9) will tackle this slightly harder challenge as one of the main contenders for the major share of the prizemoney. Arriving from Victoria, while still under the care of Michael Stanley, Watch List justified his odds-on quote in defeating We Salute You and Zhukov Leis, courtesy of a kind run and an astute drive by Luke McCarthy. Boasting a 33% winning strike rate after 30 assignments, the 5yo son of Betterthancheddar has joined the Belinda McCarthy team and despite his tricky draw and what appears to be an open challenge, Watch List is bound to competitive. Since resuming from a spell, BUNDORAN (4) has been performing in fine fashion, apart from one run when he started odds-on to take out the Young Cup on March 12. After leading, but racing keenly in the process, Bundoran recorded a moderate 36.5m 9th to Our Triple Play. Either side of that run and the Amanda Turnbull-conditioned son of Lincoln Royal was ticking over nicely, with the 4yo bouncing back strongly as his latest effort resulted in a closing 4.4m 4th to Bad To The Bone. Isobel Ross will take over the driving duties and from his good draw, Bundoran should be in the mix from the outset so expect a strong showing from the Bathurst visitor. RED REACTOR (3) is rarely far from the action when the judge calls a halt, and that scenario is bound to be the case after the 6yo drew suitably in three. The chestnut son of Auckland Reactor is coming off a sound 9m 5th to Bad To The Bone, the same race as Bundoran. A cosy stalking role will result in Red Reactor proving to be a worthy opponent. MILLWOOD TILLY (8) was having her first start for Steph Lippiatt when a solid 1.2m 2nd to Bronski Belle a couple of weeks ago. A model of consistency the former Queenslander has drawn wide for this tougher test, but she appeals as an ideal exotic player. Casting the net wider for exotic runners and BALL OF ART (5), ZIGGY ROCKS (6) and FOR THE BETTOR (10) fit into that category.

    WATCH LIST 1, Bundoran 2, Red Reactor 3, Millwood Tilly 4.

    RACE THREE:

    Former Kiwi CHUBBY CHECKER (5) has made a big impression since crossing the ‘ditch’ and joining the high-flying Jack Trainor stable, and according to his new mentor, the well-named son of A Rocknroll Dance can add to his two ‘number hits’ for the stable. Despite commencing his first assignment for Trainor with a slight scare, when he went into a slight ‘twist’ at the start, Chubby Checker was quick on his ‘hoofs’, regaining his composure and looping the field to take control of the situation with 800m to run. Over the final stages the 4yo broke clear of the park in posting an impressive 18.4m win. Stepping up a notch in grade for his next appearance, Chubby Checker drew wide and settled back in the pack, prior to making his presence felt on the final bend, then powering to the line in accounting for Pacman Hammer and Titian Raider, with the latter winning since. Chubby Checker, real name Ernest Evans, was named after the great Fats Domino, courtesy of the then wife of famed rock and roll presenter Dick Clark. However, back on track, and Chubby Checker has drawn suitably in the middle of the pack for this harder challenge, but he looks the ‘real deal’ and he can be expected to ‘top the charts’ once again. MISS RUBY SUNSHINE (4) has drawn well, one spot closer to the pegs than Chubby Checker, and that will assist the talented daughter of Sunshine Beach from playing an active role in the finish. Like Millwood Tilly, Miss Ruby Sunshine has left the Queensland stables of Chantal Turpin to be prepared locally by Steph Lippiatt. The ultra-consistent 4yo mare won four on end, including a win here, prior to a game 13.3m 2nd to the classy Rocknroll Angel. The mare is bound to be prominently placed from the outset, ensuring another competitive display. ROYAL GAMBLE (6) is definitely on the verge of another win after several creditable displays. Drawing the outside gate for his most recent encounter, Royal Gamble produced a strong finish in posting a neck 2nd behind Vandanta. The improved draw may be the chance the 6yo son of Bettors Delight has been waiting for so don’t ignore his claims. When it comes to forming multiple combinations, PACMAN HAMMER (11), despite his outside draw, can’t be left out of the equation, while STORMY RAIDER (2) and JIGAMAROO (3) appeal in that regard. If, OUR MONEY ROCKS (7) comes off the bench, then include him in the mix as his past two runs have been solid.

    CHUBBY CHECKER 1, Miss Ruby Sunshine 2, Royal Gamble 3, Pacman Hammer 4.

    RACE FOUR:

    CHECK IN (8) was a shade disappointing at Headquarters when last produced on March 26, and according to his trainer Darren Hancock, that was certainly the case, although Darren is prepared to look past that run, and suggest that due to a higher level of fitness, the son of Mach Three is definitely worthy of another chance. First-up from a three month spell and a trip across the Tasman, Check In opened his career on this side of the ‘ditch’ with a sound 3.5m 4th to Hidden Courage, prior to his latest encounter. Crossing from gate five, due to his good gate speed, Check In looked to have the situation under control as heads were turned for home, however, over the final 100m he was under pressure, resulting in a 1.4m 3rd to Vandanta. The 7yo did battle on gamely and with that run under his belt, Check In certainly has the ability to land the money this time around. The consistent ZHUKOV LEIS (7) is an ideal exotic runner, and a win wouldn’t come as a surprise as the 7yo, while he doesn’t win out of turn, is bound to be thereabouts when the final, testing, 200m comes into play. ITZ MY GENERATION (2) hasn’t done a great deal since scoring at this venue back on January 2, but with an ideal draw assisting his claims, the son of Bettors Delight is capable of a cheeky display so don’t take him lightly. PUMP THE BRAKES (10), part from drawing deep, would find this to be a suitable challenge, compared to his latest bracket of work. Prepared and driven by Sean Grayling, Pump The Brakes faded out of contention when a 23.3m 7th to Ellmers Image in the Renshaw Cup a week ago, but his previous efforts are certainly good enough to see him competitive in this company. Exotic investors should consider SOLE AMBITION (6) and LACEYS LAD (9) when forming combinations.

    CHECK IN 1, Zhukov Leis 2, Itz My Generation 3, Pump The Brakes 4.

    RACE FIVE:

    The Joe and Michael Ilsley G3 highlights the card and following his stylish win in the G3 JE Binskin a couple of weeks ago, IGNATIUS (7) will again take a power of beating. Working to an early lead from his wide gate, the 6yo son of Roll With Joe was rated to perfection by his mentor James Rattray, a tribute to JE, who was a master tactician. The most surprising aspect of the win by Ignatius wasn’t the 13.2m winning margin, but the good price. Twenty days earlier and the 6yo did go around in the Miracle Mile, and he certainly wasn’t disgraced in recording an 11.2m 7th to King Of Swing. Whether James can work to the top again, from a slightly better draw, will depend on the speedy polemarker, THUNDER DANCE (1). If, Ignatius does find the front and he allowed to set the tempo, then the 26th win of his career should be there for the taking. If, Thunder Dance holds the peg running, Ignatius will be asked to work for his keep. CRUZ (8), who wasn’t disgraced in finishing 2nd to Ignatius last time out, will again make his presence felt. After being first to the pegs, Cruz then enjoyed the stalking role on Ignatius, but was no match for the winner over the final stages. A quality performer in his own right, Cruz is poised to again make his presence felt. MACH DA VINCI (6) is rarely far away but over the course of the past few months, the son of Art Major has been unable to break through for another win. In fairness to the Peter Hanson-trained 4yo, on a number of occasions he has been competing in races won by King Of Swing, Cash N Flow, Ignatius and the likes. Mach Da Vinci is coming off a solid 5.7m 5th to Ellmers Image in the 2525m Renshaw Cup, with a back row draw and a three wide trip proving to be a sufficient hurdle. Handily draw, it won’t come as a surprise to see Mach Da Vinci playing a role in the finish. FOUROEIGHT (2) resumed from a couple of months ‘R&R’ with a 9.6m 6th behind Aphorism in the Mayors Cup at Bathurst on March 27. The consistent 8yo has drawn ideally and with the prospect of receiving a cosy run, probably close to the action, the Mat Rue trained and driven son of Rock N Roll Heaven is capable of being an ideal exotic runner. MAFUTA VAUTIN (5) was a shade disappointing last time out but on his previous sound form, he must be included in multiple discussions. WRANGLER (9) and MAKOA (10) are also worthy of attention in that regard.

    IGNATIUS 1, Cruz 2, Mach Da Vinci 3, Fouroeight 4.

    RACE SIX:

    Punters have been going ‘bananas’ over FUNKY MONEY since the mare arrived from New Zealand to join KerryAnn and Robert Morris at Lucky Lodge, And, for good reason, as the 4yo daughter of Monkey Bones has been successful in each of her four appearances. Three of her wins have been by 13.9m or more, with a comfortable 1.7m winning margin posted two starts ago when she led in defeating Araignee Flair. When last produced back on March 30, the mare had little trouble leading, and when called upon by Robert Morris to put her rivals out of the misery, Funky Monkey managed to complete her days work in a 26.8 final quarter and, there appeared plenty in reserve had it been required. Drawing out a few spots wider won’t be a concern for the mare, plus she will again be competing against rivals which have already been unable to match her ability. It would appear bigger things are in store for Funky Monkey so you would expect her to continue on her winning way. GIMONDI (7) is a talented 4yo from the astute Blake Fitzpatrick, but he has already been safely held by Funky Monkey on three occasions, two of them as runner-up. Sandwiched between two roles as runner-up, Gimondi also finished a gritty 2nd to Arnold, beaten a half-neck in the process. Despite boasting nine wins and six placings from his 23 encounters, Gimondi will again find it difficult to remove Funky Monkey from the top spot. FOX TROT HILL (5) and a fitter MEYDAN (4) will be in the mix when it comes to forming multiple transactions while ARAIGNEE FLAIR (3) and SUNNY GEE (9) could assist in adding some much needed value to the equation.

    FUNKY MONKEY 1, Gimondi 2, Fox Trot Hill 3, Meydan 4.

    RACE SEVEN:

    Since leaving Victoria to join the Cawdor stables of Hall of Famer Paul Fitzpatrick, SAMMY SHOWDOWN (9) has contested six races at Headquarters. Three have resulted in Sammy finishing runner-up, one a solid third and two unplaced efforts in G1 and G3 assignments. Despite his consistency, the time has arrived for Sammy Showdown to greet the judge, and although meeting some talented types the 5yo is worthy of one more chance. The son of Bacardi Lindy was brave in defeat two starts ago when narrowly beaten by Flingandwingit, prior to a gritty 2.6m 3rd to Arnold and Gimondi. There is no doubt that Sammy Showdown has been ‘putting in’, it is just a matter of the right run coming his way, then taking full advantage of the situation. ‘G1’ Gavin Fitzpatrick will have the option of going forward, which has been the case on numerous occasions or playing the waiting game and allowing Sammy Showdown to come with a rush. Maybe, the latter would benefit the 5yo. ARNOLD (7) was rated to perfection by Luke McCarthy in scoring last time out and he is bound to be in the mix from the outset once again. As a result, the Muscle Mass 7yo will take a power of beating. The ‘watch’ runner is PRINCESS KENNY (5), with the talented mare stepping out for her first assignment since a well-beaten last to Majestic Courtney last October. KerryAnn Morris has given the daughter of Monarchy three trials, all sound, with the latest resulting in a win here during the week. Overflowing with ability, Princess Kenny is poised for a solid, first-up showing. FLINGANDWINGIT (8) is fitter for two runs and is a suitable exotic runner, along with GARLAND GREENE (10), a former Queenslander which is now under the care of Belinda McCarthy. A consistent type, Garland Greene will be facing a tougher test, however, he stays under notice when it comes to the multiples.

    SAMMY SHOWDOWN 1, Arnold 2, Princess Kenny 3, Flingandwingit 4.

    RACE EIGHT:

    Cobbitty mentor Belinda McCarthy holds the key to the final race, courtesy of IOLANTA (7) and LA BELLA VITA (2), two talented and in-form mares. Luke has gone the way of the well-drawn LA BELLA VITA (2), which is an important guide, but IOLANTA (7) still looks to be a major contender for the top spot. And, with Leonard Cain in charge of the reins, it wouldn’t be the first time he has finished ahead of the boss. Formerly with Victorian mentor Michael Stanley, Iolanta was still under his care when a solid-finishing head 2nd to Bad To The Bone, just prior to easter. The small field will assist the Bettors Delight mare and with the gate speed to find the pegs, Iolanta can go one better this time around. LA BELLA VITA (2) has been in superb form since leaving NZ to be mentored by Team McCarthy. Following a hat-trick of wins, the talented daughter of Changeover then finished an eye-catching 2nd to Elroy Jetson, prior to a game 3.2m 3rd to Bad To The Bone. Ideally drawn, the mare can dictate the terms or taking cover if Iolanta arrives on the scene, then attempting to sprint past her over the final stages. BRONSKI BELLE (5) scored at big odds and in fine fashion last time out, and although this will be a harder challenge, the mare must be included in exotic discussions. Michael Muscat has SEMI SENSATION (4) performing in the ‘peak of her powers’ and with Doug Hewitt driving in fine fashion, the trio must be rated highly when it comes to the multiples. Expect a better showing from a fitter MICHELLE LEE MAC (3) while the remaining two runners, VOLANDO DENARIO (1) and BROOKLYNS BEST (6) aren’t out of the mix when it comes to adding value to the exotic dividends.

    IOLANTA 1, La Bella Vita 2, Bronski Belle 3, Semi Sensation 4.

     – MIKE KO’CASS

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