March 24, 2022 National Trotguide
Following a successful return to racing at Newcastle recently, THE RACONTEUR (9) is capable of making it back-to-back wins to commence his latest term of racing, despite the presence of a wide gate in what will be a tougher assignment. Prepared by Belinda McCarthy and to be driven by Luke, who replaces Ash Hart, the son of Art Major had little go his way when left exposed outside of the leader, however, Hart had The Raconteur relaxed in that role, prior to the pair surging to the lead soon after sighting the winning post. The odds-on elect was never in danger of defeat from that point onwards, comfortably accounting for Man From Braavos and Soho Bradenburg. The outing was The Raconteur’s first since starting a ‘warm’ favourite in a heat of the Carousel at Menangle back on Dec 4, which resulted in a 6.4m 6th to La Puddie, when the 4yo was under the care of Jason Grimson. Boasting a higher level of fitness, The Raconteur is capable of being competitive in a tough and open contest to start proceedings. Talented mare ELEKTRA (1) is also coming off a winning display to ‘kick-start’ her latest term of racing and, with gate one being a big plus, the Paul Fitzpatrick daughter of Four Starzzz Shark is worthy of attention. Overcoming a wide gate when having her first encounter in over three months, Elektra hit the line strongly from a midfield role in defeating Allset and Unfazed. This will be an interesting challenge for the 4yo, but with the likely ‘kind’ run coming her way, a bold showing is a distinct possibility. IMASPORTSSTAR (5) is building towards another winning performance after two solid efforts following an easy trip to the winner’s circle at Goulburn three starts ago. Following a 13.2m 4th behind Aqua Sancta at Penrith, the David Thorn-trained son of Sportswriter again found the line with intent when a 5.4m 4th to Artillery last week. The prospect of a similar midfield role will result in the 6yo being a contender for the top spot. YARRAMAN BELLA (7) has won her past couple at Bathurst and Menangle, respectively, the latter a week ago when she stalked the speed en route to claiming Allset and Vanity Bay over the final 70m. The Village Jolt mare has joined the astute Brad Hewitt team, following recent sound form under the care of James Sutton, and although this will be a step up in grade, the 5yo should at least be linked to the multiples. The key to the race is the Jarrod Alchin-trained DELIGHTFUL DUDE (4), with the 4yo looking to contest this race on the right side of ‘lady luck’, which has been missing of late. Sixth to Better Eclipse in the G1 Chariots of Fire three starts ago, the 4yo then worked when a tiring 11.6m 8th to Smooth Baht, prior to a 29.2m 4th to Fire Fox last week, when always in a rearward role. Suitably drawn, Cam Hart will be looking to provide the son of Bettors Delight with a good run and that will go a long way towards a bold showing. Exotic players should also include SURFERS DELIGHT (6) and ROCK OF DELIGHT (8).
THE RACONTEUR 1, Elektra 2, Imasportsstar 3, Yarraman Bella 4.
The Darren Binskin trained and driven LINE UP (3) is perfectly placed to greet the judge and prove to be one of the ‘better bets’ on the card. Unplaced in his final two Inter Dominion heats, the classy 5yo bounced back strongly with a decisive win over Whereyabinboppin and Atomic Red when stepping out for his first outing in two months. In an attempt to qualifying for the Miracle Mile, Line Up contested the G1 Schweppes Sprint, but following a tough run from the outset, the son of Bettors Delight tired to finish a 13.8m 6th to Spirit Of St Louis. Line Up then faced the starter for a 2400m challenge a few weeks ago and after enjoying the one-one, the entire worked home strongly in recording a closing head 2nd to Alta Orlando. The draw will result in Line Up being in the thick of the action from the outset and in what is a drop in grade, that should be enough to see him home. THE HONEY QUEEN (2) looms as the biggest threat to Line Up after the former Kiwi drew gate two. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has contested four races since crossing the Tasman and linking up with Belinda McCarthy, with the mare chalking up two wins to dates. Contesting the G1 Queen Elizabeth 11 Mile on Feb 26, The Honey Queen had no luck from start to finish, courtesy of being posted deep, which resulted in an 18.6m last to Stylish Memphis. Under the circumstances, to be beaten that far wasn’t a bad result. The 4yo quickly recovered from that engagement when she led throughout in defeating Total Diva and Shanlou on Mar 12. At no stage did The Honey Queen look in danger of defeat. Although stepping away from her own sex for this contest, The Honey Queen is more than likely, poised to play a pro-active role in the finish. Forget BE MAJOR THREAT (9) went around here on Tuesday, although, if you accepted the ‘red figures’ next to his name, that may be difficult. Following an explosive opening sectional of 25.7, Be Major Threat was pressured from the outset when under siege on the home turn before battling on stoutly in posting a 13.5m 3rd to Ranger Bomb. The son of Art Major had been racing well prior to that outing and a far better showing is likely. LA PUDDIE (4) tried hard but was no match for Crunch Time last week in finishing 2nd, 19.2 astern. The reliable 5yo has drawn handily and that will assist his claims of being a suitable exotic runner while THE CROUPIER (8), SOMEBEACHSHADOW (1) and MISTER MAGIC MAN (7) also fall into that category.
LINE UP 1, The Honey Queen 2, Be Major Threat 3, La Puddie 4.
It is impossible to go past FIRE FOX (5) as the winner of the G3 Autumn Gift Final following his emphatic display at Headquarters last week. Stepping out for his first assignment since finishing 5th to High Flying Harry at Addington on Jan 28, the son of Sweet Lou hit the ground running when the green light was switched on and didn’t stop until the judge called a halt. With Jack Callaghan in the sulky, the latest addition to the Jason Grimson team powered through the opening quarter in 26.1, then stopped the clock in a time of 1:49.6, leaving Lochiel and Ardens Ace to fill the minors. Fitter for the outing and drawing suitably in the same gate, due to the polemarker being scratched, Fire Fox again looks poised to find the lead role and the judge. ARTILLERY (3) is bound to come ‘all guns ablazin’ in attempt to secure the role behind Fire Fox. The former SA pacer has been productive in four runs since joining the Belinda McCarthy stable, with the 4yo son of Art Major also coming off an all-the-way heat win. STINGRAY TARA (4) was also stepping out for his first run for Grimson in his heat, which resulted in a solid win for the former Victorian. Never headed after finding the lead, the 6yo covered the first 400m in 26.8, but Cam Hart was then able to walk the field through the middle stages, which resulted in a 25.9 final 400m, leaving his rivals with an impossible task to run him down. The favourable draw will again result in Stingray Tara being in the thick of the action from the outset. LOCHIEL (11) did a good job in coming from a rearward role in finishing 2nd to Fire Fox. The Lincoln Royal 5yo will benefit from the outing and if a speed battle unfolds, then the Amanda Turnbull trained and driven gelding could be the one to benefit from such a display. Exotic players should also include heat winner KINGMAKER (10), which will strip fitter, ZOLIVER (8), JUST A LITTLE BIT (9) and RED REACTOR (12).
FIRE FOX 1, Artillery 2, Stingray Tara 3, Lochiel 4.
This race sets up perfectly for the Amanda Turnbull trained and driven BEALE STREET (1) as the son of Art Major will take full-advantage of the pole position in dictating this engagement from start to finish. Spelled after a 5.4m 3rd to Dance Away back in May/2021, Beale Street headed to Headquarters on Feb 22, with a wide gate resulting in the 5yo being eased at the start, resulting in a three peg role coming his way. Although never a serious threat, Beale Street recorded a solid 6.2m 5th to Zeus Dan. With that run under his belt the gelding headed back to his home track of Bathurst to contest a heat of this particular event and, with gate two next to his name, Beale Street made a ‘one act’ affair of the race in scoring by 14.9m over two handy types in Special Meaning and feeling Hall Good. Amanda will again look to set the tempo, as she did at Bathurst, and such a role will ensure that Beale Street will be well on his way to greeting the judge. OPEN THE VALVE (6) has won his past four on the country arena, the latest at Young when he worked in defeating Kulani Courage and Millys Prince. This will be a tougher test but the Ellen Bartley-trained 6yo knows how to find the line. SIX AGAIN (4) is coming off a narrow but solid win at Wagga a week ago and while this will be a harder assignment, the son of Roll With Joe is bound to give a bold showing. Exotic players should consider last-start Newcastle winner MISTERFIRE (10), MIKE ORR (2), KULANI COURAGE (3) and SCOTLYNN JIGGS (5).
BEALE STREET 1, Open The Valve 2, Six Again 3, Misterfire 4.
Although he hasn’t been seen in the winner’s circle since December/2020, the Brad Hewitt trained and driven THE TEXAS RANGER (7) appeals as the one to beat in what is an open and tough contest, with the nine runners suffering from a lack of confidence when it comes to being associated with the winning post. Boasting just nine wins from 66 starts, The Texas Ranger has won five of them at this venue and judging by his creditable 7.5m 3rd to Itz Miss Montana at Wagga recently, this could easily be number six. The battle for early supremacy will go a long way towards the ultimate outcome so Brad is likely to look to secure a comfortable role off the pace, then allowing The Texas Ranger to come with a late surge. JERULAS GRIN (5) had been responsible for a few handy runs at Menangle recently, the latest an 11.5m 5th to Yarraman Bella, prior to working home stoutly in recording a solid 1.4m 2nd behind the in-form Smooth Baht at Bathurst. The 5yo son of Grinfromeartoear should find this an acceptable challenge so don’t ignore his claims. ALTA EQUUS (3) hasn’t been disgraced by his past two Menangle outings, an 11.5m 6th to Smooth Baht and an 11.7m 6th behind Kingmaker, respectively, the latter a tougher task, compared to this encounter. The kind draw will certainly assist Alta Equus in his bid for a pro-active role in the finish. ALLSET (1) followed a couple of sound efforts when runner-up to Yarraman Bella and Elektra, respectively, with an 8.5m 6th to Platinum Revolution here on Tuesday. Drawing deep on that occasion the son of Elsu raced in a rearward role and was never a factor. However, this time around the 5yo will have the opportunity to be prominent from gate one, so expect a better showing. PERFECT CUT (4), CHECK IN (6) and HANDS ON (9) stay in the mix when it comes to forming multiple transactions.
THE TEXAS RANGER 1, Jerulas Grin 2, Alta Equus 3, Allset 4.
Following his gallant 6.5m 3rd behind Boncel Benjamin and Expensive Ego in the G1 Inter Dominion Grand Final back on December 11, ALTA ORLANDO (5) has gone on a winning spree since resuming from one of his finest moments. Resuming on what was supposed to be Miracle Mile night, March 5, the 10yo son of Courage Under Fire led out before being shuffled back to a three-peg role. However, yet another cool, calm, collected drive by Jack Callaghan, resulted in Alta Orlando arriving in time to account for Line Up and Malcolms Rhythm. A week later, and the Belinda McCarthy-trained professional managed to overcome the outside gate, firstly, crossing to the markers. then taking a sit before again getting the job done, this time lowering the colours of I Cast No Shadow and Mach Da Vinci. Gate five is appealing, as far as, Alta Orlando is concerned as he should be able to again cross to the pegs, before again taking a sit, with I Cast No Shadow the one to occupy that position. Despite drawing deep, the Paul Fitzpatrick-trained JAY OK (9) is bound to enjoy a keenly contested opening 400m. Contesting the G1 Allied Express Sprint, Jay OK went within an ‘ace’ of facing the starter in the Miracle Mile, following a determined 2.6m 3rd to King Of Swing. Rarely far from the action the 5yo posted a rare unplaced effort last time out in finishing an 8.4m 5th to stablemate Zeuss Bromac in the 2400m G1 Ainsworth a few weeks ago. The son of A Rocknroll Dance has a big finish and, he could put that to good use once again. I CAST NO SHADOW (4) will again be swiftly into stride and the possible re-take will come into play, although CASH N FLOW (3), stablemate of Alta Orlando, may be looking to be in the mix, as well. I Cast No Shadow was looking to complete the hat-trick of wins when collared by Alta Orlando and he is more than capable of turning the tables this time around. Brilliant mare ANNTONIA (2) will enjoy facing the starter from gate two as she steps away from feature races away from her own sex. Far from being disgraced when a 5.9m 8th to Stylish Memphis in the G1 Queen Elizabeth 11, the David Thorn-trained 4yo then worked home stoutly to register a 12.2m 4th to The Honey Queen last time out. The prospect of a kind, stalking role, will assist Anntonia in her quest to upset the boys. Both ALPINE STRIDE (10) and CASH N FLOW (3) stay under notice as exotic players.
ALTA ORLANDO 1, Jay OK 2, I Cast No Shadow 3, Anntonia 4.
Back to a suitable challenge and handily drawn, PEARL HARBOUR (3) is deserving of another chance after a respectable display at Headquarters a week ago. Competing from behind the leader, and eventual winner Stingray Tara, the Blake Fitzpatrick trained and driven 5yo had her chance, but found the final 400m a ‘bit too slick’ as the winner was able to cover the distance in 25.9. Pearl Harbour has two fine performers drawn inside of her but, Blake has previously stated that the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere has outstanding gate speed so his initial game plan maybe to dictate the terms. Looming as a major threat is another Fitzpatrick runner, but this one is prepared by Paul and will be driven by Gavin. WAINUI CREEK (8) lost all chance in the score up when a 31.4m last behind The Honey Queen two starts ago, prior to tackling a 2300m assignment against the ‘boys’ when a solid-finishing 5m 4th to Mach Da Vinci last week. The former WA mare has contested six races since crossing the Nullabor, and although yet to greet the judge, the daughter of Bettors Delight has posted some quality efforts so expect the 6yo to be right in the thick of the action when the judge calls a halt. BETTOR BE KEPT (1) will create a great deal of interest on her return, with gate one an added bonus for the Michael Doltoff-trained daughter of Bettors Delight. Stepping out for her first challenge since a gritty 8.3m 2nd to Anntonia in the G1 NSWBC 3YO Fillies Final last October. The mare has had the benefit of two trials, the latter being a solid placing, so expect a bold first-up display. The consistent SHANLOU (2) is deserving of another trip to the winner’s circle after a hat-trick of solid placings. Gate two will certainly assist her claims when it comes to exotic transactions. TOTAL DIVA (4) would appear to be the only other runner which has claims as an exotic contender.
PEARL HARBOUR 1, Wainui Creek 2, Bettor Be Kept 3, Shanlou 4.
This does appear to be a raffle with the David Hewitt-trained SMOOTH SAILOR (6) gaining the verdict, although the son of Sportswriter doesn’t win out of turn. The last time the 9yo greeted the judge was back in July.2021 when he scored at Albion Park. However, the veteran is entitled to a high rating in this company following a 20m 3rd to Crunch Time and La Puddie here a week ago. The margin as convincing, but Smooth Sailor did work to the line in an encouraging manner and this will be a far more suitable challenge. ASHARK (1) will enjoy this draw and the drop in grade. Prepared by Melanie Elder the 7yo posted a handy 7.9m 4th to Laceys Lad at Newcastle, prior to being a well-supported $3.00 chance in the race won by Crunch Time last week. Outside the leader, then shuffled back to a midfield role, Ashark was never a factor in finishing a 24.7m 5th, however, this will be challenge will be to his liking so don’t ignore his claims. CANT REFUSE (3) also went around in the Crunch Time race, with a creditable 24.6m 4th coming his way. That was an improved effort on recent displays, which to be fair were in better class races, so he also looks an improver in this field. DANCE FOR GLORY (7), HIDDEN COURAGE (9), PEMBROOKS PASSION (4) and ADMIRAL BRONSKI (5) should be included when it comes to forming multiple transactions.
SMOOTH SAILOR 1, Ashark 2, Cant Refuse 3, Dance For Glory 4.
– MICK KO’CASS