March 23, 2023 Michael Court
Despite going down a week ago as a short-priced elect, the KerryAnn Morris-prepared PORT AU PRINCE (2) remains the horse to beat. Drawing gate two, the same marble he drew for this assignment, the Carousel winner was left exposed outside of the leader when he was unable to match strides with Abouttime, who sped across from an outside gate to find the front with relevant ease. Rated to perfection by Cam Hart, Abouttime posted a blistering 26.5, which had his rivals starting to feel the pinch. While Abouttime went on to greet the judge, Port Au Prince faded to finish a 14.8m fifth. It was a rare unplaced effort by the former Kiwi who has been in outstanding form for Lucky Lodge since crossing the Tasman. While contesting another tough race, the 5yo is capable of ‘punching’ through from his good draw in either leading or taking cover. Either way, especially if Robert Morris does dictate the terms, Port Au Prince will test this field. Trainer Joe Conolly has been enjoying a run of success of late and LOYALIST (4) has been playing his role in greeting the judge. The 6yo posted a couple of solid placings, firstly behind Port Au Prince, then Betterzippit, prior to being rewarded with a stylish win over Joe Nien and Gliding Away, the pair both being placed since. Loyalist will appreciate the move from gate 10, into four, and with sufficient gate speed, Seaton Grima, who is driving in superb touch, has the opportunity to have the son of Bettors Delight in a challenging role from the outset. The consistent BRAEDOS LAD (1) will enjoy gate one as that will enable the Jack Trainor-prepared son of For A Reason to be in the mix from outset. Despite coming off a costly 5.4m 6th behind Loyalist, the 5yo can’t be ignored. The consistent GLIDING AWAY (5) strips fitter for two solid placings since a spell and, as per usual, the 6yo is bound to give a bold showing. The son of Betterthancheddar has contested 24 races at this venue for six wins and 16 placings, which makes him an ideal exotic runner. MR BOHANNON (3) has won his past couple at Newcastle in fine fashion and he also warrants exotic involvement, along with another consistent type in JIMARTEE (9), which has drawn wide, but he is racing in a ‘purple patch’ of form, and although a harder task awaits, the Noel Hatcher-trained son of Sportswriter can’t be taken lightly. KINGMAKER (10), despite the tricky draw, also remains in the mix when it comes to the multiples.
PORT AU PRINCE 1, Loyalist 2, Braedos Lad 3, Gliding Away 4.
Courtesy of a vastly improved starting role and a higher level of fitness, EMMAS BOY (1) is capable of making his presence felt in what appears to be an open contest. A son of the former great Kiwi, Terror To Love, the 6yo has had two runs for the in-form Brad Hewitt team at Goulburn, recording a gritty all-the-way win here a couple of weeks ago, when first-up for the stable. Emmas Boy accounted for Philander Chef, which greeted the judge at his next assignment. Emmas Boy then contested a hat of the Autumn Gift at Headquarters last week, with a creditable 6.6m 4th to Im Bruce Almighty coming his way after drawing out in gate eight. Brad will have Emmas Boy in the mix from the outset so expect a competitive showing. UNFAZED (11) has been a little out of sorts of late, with little going his way on the odd occasion, playing a role in his recent run of seven unplaced efforts. However, trainer Charlie Pollicina is confident that the 6yo son of Auckland Reactor is ready to produce another winning display. Unfazed is coming off an improved showing, which resulted in a 6.6m 4th to Double Act a week ago. This will be an easier contest for Unfazed, and, if he can have some luck in running, then he will play an active role in the finish. THE STAIN (9) continues to be thereabouts for trainer Corey Parker with his latest effort producing a creditable 10m 5th to Im Bruce Almighty. The For a Reason 5yo is capable of again being in the mix when the judge calls a halt. ROMANEE (4) has changed stables since an 18.6m 7th behind Lochiel last week, with the 5yo now under the astute guidance of Jarrod Alchin. Although his form has been patchy of late on the country arena, Romanee should be given further consideration when it comes to the multiples. Other runners to consider when forming multiple transactions includes RED REACTOR (3), HIDDEN COURAGE (6), LOORRIM CREEK (7)and MARATHON MAN (8), with the quartet all bound to be value players.
EMMAS BOY 1, Unfazed 2, The Stain 3, Romanee 4.
The ‘best bet’ on the card appears in this event, with the powerful combination of trainer Jason Grimson and driver Cam Hart set to carry on the good work from last week, this time with the classy LIGHTNING DAN (10). Formerly with Emma Stewart, the 4yo has been a consistent performer since changing stables, with his recent efforts including a solid 4.2m 2nd to Republican Party in the G3 Hondo Grattan, which paved the way for his appearance in the G1 Chariots of Fire a month ago. From a midfield role, Lightning Dan recorded a creditable 13.2m 5th to Catch a Wave, which continued to ride the ‘çrest of a winning wave’ when he brilliantly won the Miracle Mile. Despite the presence of a wide gate, the son of Captaintreacherous will take a power of beating. If, his colours are to be lowered, then BEACH VILLA (9) appears to be the one most likely to achieve such a result. Also a former member of the Emma Stewart team, the 4yo has had four starts for Belinda McCarthy, with a win coming the way of the son of Somebeachsomewhere, three runs into his career since making the move to Cobbitty. Following his all-the-way win, Beach Villa then recorded a solid-finishing 6.5m 3rd to Heaven On High and Im Bruce Almighty, the latter greeting the judge since. Beach Villa has drawn one spot better than Lightning Dan, so expect Luke McCarthy to go in search of a role close to the action from the outset. The pair appear to be the major contenders for line honours, which leaves BUBBA SCRUB (6), which has sound Victorian form, EVERYBODYLOVEDRAY (8), ANANAIS (5), GORDONS BAY (3) and LUVERBOY (4) as value exotic players.
LIGHTNING DAN 1, Beach Villa 2, Bubba Scrub 3, Everybodylovedray 4.
The Waratah Final is overflowing with chances, but courtesy of drawing the prized pole position and the booking of Luke McCarthy, IM HARVEY SPECTER (1) can now argue a strong case that he is the one most likely to greet the judge. Prepared by Michael Towers, the son of Art Major is coming off a solid defeat of Jimmy Beach and Justrollingaround at Wagga last week, when Towers was in the sulky. With wins in two of his past four starts on the country circuit, Im Harvey Specter is more than capable of continuing the good work at Headquarters. JIMMY BEACH (4) drew the back row when the pair clashed a week ago, so the move to a far more suitable draw will enhance the claims of the consistent Brooke McPherson-trained 6yo, who will be driven by Tom Gilligan. STELLAS DELIGHT (8) led from start to finish in taking out the Newcastle heat last week, with Tom Ison guiding the Mark Callaghan-prepared mare to a comfortable win. Mark’s son Jack will take over the driving duties and, despite the wide gate, the 7yo will be a contender. ICE BLASTER (9) has been placed in three of his past four assignments for Corey Parker and another competitive showing is a distinct possibility. The Steven Lee-trained MY COURTELL (12) has resumed with four placings from five starts, and although the mare has drawn the outside gate, James Locke will give the mare ever chance to make her presence felt once again. When it comes to the multiples, OUTLOOK (2), BALBOA SHANNON (3) and WAITING FOR LOVE (10) are worthy of attention.
IM HARVEY SPECTRE 1, Jimmy Beach 2, Stellas Delight 3, Ice Blaster 4.
The Autumn Gift Final has been thrown open after he draw resulted in some of the major players drawing in the vicinity of the marker pegs. One such runner is the David Thorn-trained HEAVEN ON HIGH (4) who starts to hit peak fitness, following two runs back from a spell. From his past 10 starts, the latest group of six for David since coming from NZ, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven has been responsible for three wins and seven placings. Resuming with a win over subsequent winner Im Bruce Almighty, with Beach Villa third, Heaven On High then raced without cover for the majority of his heat a week ago, when a gritty 2.8m 2nd behind Double Act. If first reserve in Yuko, which has drawn one, isn’t required, then Heaven On High will launch his claim from gate three, and that will be a big plus. Also set to benefit from a far better draw is the Jason Grimson-trained TEAGAN BANNER (6), with the former Queenslander now set to have his third run for the team. Following a costly, but pleasing 8m 3rd to Uncle Jay at Penrith, when he worked from a back row draw, the 8yo son of Art Major drew the outside gate here a week ago, which left him settling in a rearward role. Working to the line in fine fashion, Teagan Banner recorded a solid 3.6m 3rd to Double Act and Heaven on High. With the prospect of settling closer to the action, Teagan Banner will be looking to greet the judge since last June when successful at Redcliffe. As per usual, the Grimson- Cam Hart combination must be respected. The heat last week which involved Heaven On High, Teagan Banner and the winner, DOUBLE ACT (3) is clearly the one to follow into the Final. DOUBLE ACT has been hard to follow of late, but he was in the right frame of mind last week. Dictating the terms from start to finish, courtesy of drawing three, the Harry Martin-trained 5yo proved too good for his rivals, and with gate two next to his name for this challenge, David Morris will again be looking to set the tempo. With eight of his nine career wins recorded on his home track, Double Act must be respected. LOCHIEL (10) came from a rearward peg role in scoring last week, but a wide gate in a stronger contest may restrict his claims to a minor exotic role. BLAZING BANNER (8) has won three-on-end and he is bound to be in the mix from the outset so expect him to make a bold bid fir victory once again. When it comes to the multiples include ROCK OF DELIGHT (11), TRIPLE FOUR (7) and IM BRUCE ALMIGHTY (5).
HEAVEN ON HIGH 1, Teagan Banner 2, Double Act 3, Lochiel 4.
If there is such a thing as a ‘safe’ investment than SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (5) must fall into that category. Gaining entry into the Miracle Mile, via a stylish and typical, all-the-way win over Hurricane Harley and Bondi Lockdown in the G2 Schweppes Sprint, the Belinda McCarthy-prepared son of Sweet Lou then finished a gallant 3m 2nd to Catch A Wave, the second time in a row the gelding has had to settle for being runner-up in the great race, filling the same role a year ago behind King Of Swing. Suitably drawn, Spirit Of St Louis will leave the machine with intent, but Jack Callaghan will have an intriguing early call, as coiled up in gate one is the speedster, WHEREYABINBOPPIN (1) and, no doubt, trainer-driver James Rattray won’t be keen to surrender his favoured role of pacemaker, without a fight. Fourth, beaten 11.5m by Honolua Bay in the G2 Allied Express Sprint, the 7yo then contested the 2400m Light Horse FFA on Miracle Mile night, with a 9.9m 8th to Bondi Lockdown coming his way after competing from a three-peg role. Back to his preferred journey, Whereyabinboppin will be far more competitive this time around. JILLIBY KUNG FU (7), who is a stablemate of Spirit Of St Louis, is coming off a respectable 7.5m 2nd to Sicario, who has been in fine form since, back on March 4. Although a shade below his best these days, the 9yo is bound to be in the mix so don’t dismiss the veteran when it comes to forming multiple transactions. PERFECT STRIDE (6) also has claims in that regard following a recent run of solid displays. Beaten 9.3m in finishing 7th to Mach Dan in the Newcastle Mile, the Jack Trainor prepared and driven 6yo then finished a close 2nd to Betterzippit at Menangle three weeks ago. HULI NIEN (4) has been placed in both runs since leaving John Justice and joining Jack Trainor so include the 7yo in multiple discussions, along with THE BLACK PRINCE (8) and FIRE FOX (11).
SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS 1, Whereyabinboppin 2, Jillliby Kung Fu 3, Perfect Stride 4.
Open race for the trotters but talented mare ALDEBARAN TESS (7) does appear suitably placed in this field on her best form. Trained and driven by Sofia Arvidsson the Muscle Hill mare scored in fine style at this venue back in late December, but has managed just one placing since from her subsequent four starts. That placing was a gritty 2nd to the champ, Tough Monarch, and a repeat of that effort would be good enough to see Aldebaran Tess home. Following that outing the 6yo wasn’t disgraced in recording a 5m 5th to Van Sank a month ago. That form must be respected in a race of this nature. GEE CEE CALDER (3) arrives from Victoria with solid form since resuming from a spell. Off the scene since August 2022, the 6yo son of Im Stately resumed with wins at Cranbourne and Kilmore, respectively, before a solid 3rd to Carnera and Petite Love at Geelong recently. Suitably drawn the Tyrone Abela-prepared gelding must be rated highly. Tyrone will also be represented by MADENA SKY (5), which will backing up from a Tuesday engagement, and providing the mare performs well, then she must be included as a contender. GUNNER (6) is racing well for trainer-driver Howard James, and although the 6yo is leaving his comfort zone of Tuesday racing, the son of Quaker Jet is capable of giving a good account. AFFAIRE DE COVER (4) is coming off a couple of solid efforts as runner-up, and a win wouldn’t surprise, while VIKSUN (1), ALLURING TYRON (8), ONE MAJIC KENNY (10) and DROP THE HAMMER (11), who is the class runner, but recent form has been well-blow the form which resulted in a high rating. The above-mentioned are in the mix as exotic runners.
ALDEBARAN TESS 1, Gee Cee Calder 2, Gunner 3, Madena Sky 4.
Returning to a suitable assignment and aided by a good draw, former Kiwi LAST TANGO IN HEAVEN (3) has the chance to post his first win for Lucky Lodge. After opening his career on this side of the Tasman with a promising 7.4m 2nd to Sumomentsomewhere, the 5yo has been unplaced in three runs since, but Betterzippit, Loyalist and Abouttime, respectively, have won those races, and you would want to be on them in a race of this nature. In finishing a 14m 4th to Abouttime a week ago, Last Tangi In Heaven competed from a three peg role, and with gate three a plus, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven should be in a challenging role from the outset. WOW HES A ROCK STAR (1) has drawn ideally in one and that will certainly enhance, his claims of greeting the judge. Also a son of Rock N Roll Heaven, the 5yo came from a five peg role in recording a pleasing 2.3m 3rd to Doubtless Bay a couple of weeks ago. Although he can mix his form, Wow Hes A Rock Star should test this line up. MAJOR JELLIS (9) has drawn trickly but the drop in grade should help offset that hurdle. The son of Art Major is coming off an 11.5m last to Stingray Tara a week ago when always in a rearward role and on the pegs. Placed once from six starts since a spell, Major Jellis should be competitive. TUPPENCE (8) has been around the mark in each of his past five runs, two resulting in placings, the latter when a gritty 5.2m 3rd to Nananais at this venue a month ago. The Darren Binskin trained and driven 5yo, despite drawing wide, appeals as a serious threat. Exotic investors should also include DOUBLE ENCOUNTER (10), MAJOR OBAHMA (6), SPIRIT AND SOUL (4) and LITTLE BLISS (5).
LAST TANGO IN HEAVEN 1, Wow Hes A Rock Star 2, Major Jellis 3, Tuppence 4.
– FORM ASSESSED BY MIKE KO’CASS