A RESURGENT Craig Cross stable will be on a hit-and-run mission and also be looking for an early finish at Newcastle tonight.
While the locals don’t enjoy sharing the spoils with Sydney visitors, they might not have much choice as Cross hits town with two early favourites and a champion reinsman in top form as well.
Luke McCarthy has been really firing in recent weeks and could be a serious threat to his little brother Todd in this season’s state drivers’ premiership.
Luke went to Maitland last week with four drives and came home with four winners. He landed another four winners at Penrith last night and is in the hottest form of his career.
While he won’t be expecting any such dominance at Newcastle tonight, it would not surprise if he wins the first two races for the Cross stable before heading home to Cobbitty.
Cross and McCarthy will combine with improving gelding Rocknroll Doug in the opening race and the pair will be hoping for a repeat of their first-up effort at Maitland when they scored a six metre win.
With three wins and five placings from just 18 starts, Rocknroll Doug has been listed as a $2.25 early favourite for Race 1 and should prove too strong for another McCarthy connection in Rakasinc, who is trained by Luke’s father John and will be driven by his younger brother Todd.
The Cross stable also has the favourite in Race 2, with Island Banner a $3 favourite and looking to repeat his last-start Newcastle win.
Luke is back on board tonight and will again have to keep an eye on his brother Todd, who’ll drive the second favourite Johnny White ($3.50) for local trainer Mark Callaghan.
Success in the first two events should then leave the way clear for the locals to grab some cash with Hunter Valley trainer Clayton Harmey also arriving with a strong team at his home track.
Harmey will be hoping Karmic Fire ($10) can continue his recent strong form and be a threat in Race 2 and has booked widely-travelled reinsman Leigh Sutton for the drive.
Playboy President has been installed a $2 favourite after drawing the pole in Race 3 and young Blake Hughes will be hoping he can produce a repeat of his recent Newcastle win when he led all the way to score.
Harmey has a double shot at victory in Race 5 with two runners, Blue Blazer (Sutton) and Reaza Grunter (Hughes) with both capable of winning.
And for good measure he has Wet My Whistle ($1.45) in Race 6 with the lightly-raced gelding chasing a hat-trick and unbeaten since arriving from New Zealand.