February 23, 2023 National Trotguide
Deserving of a visit to the winner’s circle, REACTOR NOW (9) has the potential to give trainer-driver Jack Trainor the ideal start to, what could turn out to be a memorable night, for the popular Menangle resident. Following a win at Headquarters five starts back, Reactor Now has played ‘second fiddle’ to Jazzy Star, prior to spelling, before returning with quality displays behind Cash N Flow, when extremely unlucky, B D Joe and finally a week ago when beaten 1.5m by Betterzippit, with the son of Auckland Reactor finishing strongly over the final stages. In an interview for National Trotguide. online, Jack was of the opinion that the 7yo was his best drive. Looming as the main threat is the Belinda McCarthy-prepared JILLIBY KUNG FU (3) who, according to Luke McCarthy, was a shade disappointing in finishing a 9.2m 4th to Betterzippit. Luke was able to dictate the terms last week, and with gate three a plus, the same game plan is likely to come into play. The shorter trip of 1609m also looks an ideal trip for the 9yo son of Four Starzzz Shark. Expect JAY OK (8) to again be in the mix when the judge calls a halt, despite the presence of a wide gate. As per usual, the 6yo hit the line with intent in finishing a closing 3.3m 4th to Bondi Lockdown a week ago. Exotic players should consider LETSROCKLETSROLL (2), who arrives from Victoria as the winner of two of his past three, SICARIO (11), RIPP (12) and the classy Kiwi REPUBLICAN PARTY (7), who will be looking to bounce back strongly against older rivals, following his 7th to Catch A Wave in the Chariot of Fire.
REACTOR NOW 1, Jilliby Kung Fu 2, Jay OK 3, Letsrockletsroll 4.
The Lady Drivers Invitational is next up and with the luck of the draw always vital when it comes to greeting the judge, Amanda Turnbull appears to have gained a vital edge over her rivals, courtesy of securing the drive behind the KerryAnn Morris-trained PORT AU PRINCE (6). Resuming with a stylish all-the-way win over No Time Like Now and Lochiel, the Carousel winner was able to dictate the terms last week but faded over the final stages in recording a gritty 2m 4th to Our Money Rocks, which is ‘flying’ since linking up with David Thorn. With his level of fitness going to another level, the 5yo should take a beating, with gate four his starting role if the reserves remain on the bench. DONT NEED AN EXCUSE (7) is entitled to a high rating after posting a quartet of wins, all courtesy of Jack Brown and his astute front-running drives. This time around Jemma Coney will be in charge of the reins, and although leading may be a shade more difficult, the Jack Trainor-prepared 7yo is bound to be in the mix from the outset. Steph Morris will partner the Blake Fitzpatrick-trained HE BETTOR STEP A SIDE (9), which is coming off a solid win two runs ago, then a fast-finishing 2nd to Blue Chip Delight a week ago. Despite drawing a ‘touch’ deep, He Bettor Step Aside won’t be overly disadvantaged as he will drop out early, then come with a rush. TAIPO (10) has drawn deep as well, but the former Kiwi can’t be taken lightly following his solid win here a couple of weeks ago for in-form mentor, Brad Hewitt. The 6yo son of American Ideal accounted for a couple of handy types in Surfers Delight and Rock Of Delight. Sofia Arvidsson produced a classy drive in guiding Big End Of Town home on Tuesday, and she will be looking to do the same here with Taipo. JIMARTEE (12), who will be driven by Taylah Osmond, has the outside gate to overcome, however, the Noel Hatcher-trained son of Sportswriter is racing in career best form and he can’t be ignored. Multiple combinations should also include CASSIUS DECK (3), LOCHIEL (4) and LOYALIST (8), which had no luck here last week in finishing a 6.2m 7th to Our Money Rocks. Forget the 6yo went around when assessing his claims. If, first reserve UNFAZED (5) is required to take his place in the field, make sure you respect his claims as he will be a serious player.
PORT AU PRINCE 1, Dont Need An Excuse 2, He Bettor Step Aside 3, Jimartee 4.
With a mixture of little disclosed form and a handful of newcomers, the G3 Pink Bonnet is a race of many chances, but it would appear that the Rickie Alchin trained and driven LUX AETERNA (7) is the filly to beat for the title. The daughter of boom sire Captaintreacherous debuted with a stylish all-the-way win at Newcastle, and always appeared to have the situation under control if defeating Tomahawk Bart and Luvareschs. The runner-up battled on stoutly in finishing 2nd to Wipeout at Menangle on Tuesday. The filly has drawn deeper, compared to Newcastle, but with natural improvement and the fact that she defeated a number of these runners last time, would suggest that Lux Aeterna is the one to beat again. The interesting runner is the newcomer, MERRY JEWEL (2), a daughter of American Ideal, which is under the astute care of Bernie Hewitt, who has a wonderful record with young horses. Merry Jewel won a trial by a big margin, admittingly, with only one rival, but the filly did look good in doing so. Perfectly drawn in two, Merry Jewel must be kept safe, with any positive betting move to be respected. Aaron Goadsby has strength in numbers, with three runners and all to be driven by star of the sulky, Luke McCarthy, Robert Morris and Jack Trainor. Robert will take the reins behind IGNITE THE FIRE (6), which is coming off wins at Redcliffe and Albion Park. The most experienced runner with three engagements, the Vincent filly has sat off the pace in each of her wins and from a midfield draw, that well be the case again. Goadsby will also be represented by LA DERNIERE (5), which scored on debut at AP and LUVARESCHS (8), with that particular Art major filly working home nicely for a debut 3rd behind Lux Aeterna. The Julie Douglas-trained Sweet Lou filly, REMI LOU (11) has a tough draw out deep but here debut 8.6m 3rd to Hammer Dan at Kilmore recently was a pleasing effort so don’t dismiss her as a threat. Chris Alford has been booked to guide her home.
LUX AETERNA 1, Merry Jewel 2, Ignite The fire 3, Remi Lou 4.
The G2 Schweppes Sprint is the first of the Miracle Mile qualifying events and courtesy of drawing the prized pole position, the Belinda McCarthy-conditioned BONDI LOCKDOWN (1) has the chance to free himself from the early ‘hustle and bustle’ and emerge as the dictator and the one to beat. Joining the McCarthy team, following a spell and a successful career under the guidance of Aaron Dunn, Bondi Lockdown commenced his new term of racing with an encouraging 3.5m 2nd to Spirit Of St Louis, powering home in what was an eye-catching performance. With the benefit of that run, the classy 5yo again hit the line with intent, but this time around he arrived in time to defeat Torrid Saint and Whereyabinboppin. On each occasion Bondi Lockdown has drawn wide, but the vastly improved gate and a higher level of fitness, will see Luke attacking this race from the outset with the son of Somebeachsomewhere. Inter Dominion winner I CAST NO SHADOW (9) will loom large as a threat, despite the presence of a tricky draw. The Jason Grimson-trained son of Shadow Play has contested three races since entering his name in the history books, the latest being a solid-finishing 4.7m 2nd to Honolua Bay in the Hunter Cup. While the draw is tricky, driver Jack Trainor will be looking to secure a midfield role with the 7yo, and that will assist in his claims of playing a vital role in the finish. SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (3) appears to be the other main threat to his stablemate, especially after coming up with gate three. Following a stellar season of racing a year ago, the son of Sweet Lou has been mixing his form in recent months, with back-to-back Menangle wins raising his level of confidence, prior to his 13.7m 6th to Honolua Bay in the Hunter Cup (2760m) a few weeks ago, when he led and received little peace. Expect a strong display by Spirit Of St Louis this time around. With the power to be a major factor from the outset, which will give the Jess Tubbs-conditioned TRIPLE EIGHT (8) the chance to sit off the speed and be saved for one shot at the prize, a spot in the Miracle Mile. Placed from just one of his four starts at this venue, the 8yo is never too far away, and with Greg Sugars in the sulky, Triple Eight, which will carry the number eight saddlecloth, is worthy of a ‘sneaky’ saver. Exotic claims also go the way of TASTY DELIGHT (2), which was brave in defeat in the Newcastle Mile, B D JOE (11), who scored here in good style, before breaking at the start and losing his chance in the Newcastle Mile, and ZEUSS BROMAC (12).
BONDI LOCKDOWN 1, I Cast No Shadow 2, Spirit Of St Louis 3, Triple Eight 4.
Belinda and Luke McCarthy will be looking to make a clean sweep of the sprints, with EXPENSIVE EGO (6) poised to qualify for his third-consecutive Miracle Mile. Boasting 15 wins from 24 starts at this venue, Expensive Ego experienced a tough Inter Dominion due to having little luck, prior to returning to his favoured home circuit in defeating brilliant mare Stylish Memphis. In an attempt to lead throughout at his next start, the 6yo was nabbed in the final few strides by Petes Said So. Back to Melton and this time with the Hunter Cup on the radar, he classy son of Rock N Roll Heaven drew the back row, travelled three deep for the run home, before recording a respectable 11.8m 5th to Honolua Bay. From gate six, Luke will make his presence known, but with the speedy Whereyabinboppin drawing ideally in three, it will be interesting to see how the opening 200 to 300 metres plays out. The Emma Stewart-conditioned HONOLUA BAY (10) arrives in the ‘peak of his powers’, having run a gallant 5m 4th to O cast NO Shadow in the ID Grand Final, then an unlucky 2,8m 2nd to Copy That in the Ballarat Cup. However, the 6yo was eventually rewarded when he brilliantly won the Hunter Cup. The wide drew is a concern, but the tempo will certainly assist Honolua Bay and his ability to attack the line with plenty of venom. The formguide will show the classy Kiwi ALTA WISEGUY (9) finishing 8th of nine runners at this venue, then 6th of eight in the Newcastle Mile. Forget both runs as the Stephen and Amanda Telfer prepared son of Mach Three had no luck. Top-notch Kiwi reinsman Tim Williams will jump back in the bike, and with Luke McCarthy stating that the 5yo should have finished a lot closer in the Newcastle Mile, Alta Wiseguy is worthy of more than a passing thought. Courtesy of gate one, TORRID SAINT (1) is poised to receive a suitable peg run, and with any luck in the run home, the 7yo could be the surprise packet and at a useful quote. BETTER ECLIPSE (5) has a fine record at Menangle, highlighted by his Chariots of Fire win a year ago. That gave him the chance to record a gallant third behind King Of Swing and Spirit of St Louis in last year’s Miracle Mile. The matured son of Betterthancheddar is more than capable of again making his presence felt. KRUG (12) has been racing in fine fashion back in NZ, however, the outside gate will add to the degree of difficulty.
EXPENSIVE EGO 1, Honolua Bay 2, Alta Wiseguy 3, Torrid Saint 4.
The clash of the Cameron Ross-trained PEACEFUL (4) and the star Kiwi KAHLUA FLYBYE (10), which is under the care of Stephen and Amanda Telfer, will be a ‘ripper’ and, with the G1 NSW Oaks overflowing with outstanding talent, the chances don’t stop there. Both fillies will strip in peak ‘knick’ following two runs back from a spell, but with the kinder draw, PEACEFUL is the top pick. Resuming with a classy and effortless win over the boys, the daughter of Sweet Lou then contested her heat of the Oaks, and after leading out, then taking a sit, the star NSW filly found the Kiwi a shade too good. The draw will enable star reinsman Jack Callaghan with the opportunity to gain an early, and vital edge over Kahlua Flybye and at the end of the 2400m, the could be the difference of lifting the trophy or heading back to the wash bay. KAHLUA FLYBYE (10) has a great ‘will to win’, which has been evident in both her wins since coming over for the carnival. And it will that desire to succeed which result in the daughter of Bettors Delight being in the mix when the judge calls a halt. SKY BLU (2) is coming off two impressive efforts to commence her latest term of racing, the latter when she surprisingly led in her heat, which resulted in a 6.4m 3rd to Kahlua Flybye. Boasting a higher level of fitness and a good gate, the David Thorn-prepared daughter of Sweet Lou looms as a threat, with a stalking role likely to be the plan this time around. Dual mentor Ashlee Grives has successfully been mixing preparing a team of thoroughbreds, along with her first love, the standardbred. And her hard work could pay-off ‘big time’ as SAVEEON (11) isn’t with a definite winning chance. Resuming following her G1 success in the NSWBC 2YO Fillies Final, the daughter of Warrawee Needy resumed with a pleasing 4m 3rd to Soho Seraphine in her heat. Fitter, the filly, despite drawing wide, is bound to be making her presence known over the final 300m. SOHO SERAPHINE (12) has drawn badly but the Michael Stanley trained and driven filly is still a threat as the filly doesn’t know how to run a bad race. Michael dictated the terms to perfection when the filly greeted the judge in her heat, and although this will be a tricky challenge, the Victorians can’t be taken lightly.
PEACEFUL 1, Kahlua Flybye 2. Sky Blu 3, Saveeon 4.
The heart wants to see ‘mum-to-be’ STYLISH MEMPHIS (8) make it three wins in a row in this event, formerly, the Ladyship Mile, now the G1 Queen Elizabeth 11, which was the case a year ago. The daughter of Bettors Delight crossed the Tasman once again to join Jack Trainor, and the mare has been solid in each of her three assignments, leading up to this encounter. Contesting the G3 Sibelia two weeks ago, Stylish Memphis finished a gallant 7m 3rd to star stablemate Braeview Kelly. From seven, and that is with the reserve out, Stylish Memphis will leave the machine with intent, but Jack will be looking to keep the mare with energy in her legs for a late surge, the manner in which the defending champion appreciates. However, the heart doesn’t always get what it wants, so the main selection is BRAEVIEW KELLY (11). Also prepared by Jack, but to be driven by multiple champion reinsman Cam Hart, Braeview Kelly has emerged a star performer since leaving NZ and coming under his care. Resuming with a stylish win when she finished strongly from a midfield role, the 5yo daughter of Bettors Delight then led in proving too good for Madrid and Stylish Memphis in the G3 Sibelia. Versatile in her racing pattern, the mare will have options when the green light is activated. The powerful Emma Stewart-Clayton Tonkin combination will again prove hard to beat, as per usual, as the pair will send the well-named TOUGH TILLY (12) and AMORE VITA (9) around to face the starter. TOUGH TILLY has drawn awkwardly in the outside gate, but that was the case a week ago in the G3 Robin Dundee when the tough as teak’ daughter of Captaintreacherous raced without cover in grinding out an impressive win over Tay Tay and Total Diva. This will be a tougher test, but with three wins form four starts at this venue, Tough Tilly will again be in for the fight. AMORE VITA (9) has been racing in outstanding fashion since linking up with her new mentors, arriving for this challenge on the back of three impressive wins. Always, highly-regarded, the daughter of Art major will be in the mix for a long way. When it comes to the exotics, TAY TAY (1) will give a good account from the pole while MADRID (3) is drawn to again be a contender, which has been for the majority of her career.
BRAEVIEW KELLY 1, Stylish Memphis 2, Tough Tilly 3, Amore Vita 4.
The final three races are set aside for the boys to book a spot in the NSW Derby on Miracle Mile night. Suitably drawn in gate two, the Shane Sanderson-trained DANGEROUS (2) is worthy of the gamble, although this does appear to be the heat with the greatest number of chances. The son of Sweet Lou ended his juvenile season with a barnstorming 2nd to the classy First Responder in the G1 2YO C&G’s Final, prior to resuming with wins at Cobram and Swan Hill in fine fashion. Expected to make it ‘three from three’ as a 3yo, Dangerous struck trouble a lap from home, which resulted in a costly 15.4m 6th to stablemate Catalpa Rescue in the Caduceus 3YO Classic at Melton. Facing the starter here two weeks ago, the colt led and gave a cheeky display in posting a 3.3m 2nd to NSW Oaks hopeful, Peaceful. The prospect of being in, or near the lead from the outset, will result in Dangerous making a bold bid for victory. DON HUGO (6) arrives on the back of a comfortable win at Ballarat and as a member of the Emma Stewart, Clayton Tonkin team, the Art Major colt will be a threat. ‘Team Telfer’ will be represented by ALTA METEOR (1) and with gate one next to his name, the Kiwi son of Art Major can’t be ignored. ROCKNROLL HAMMER (3), who is a half-brother to triple Miracle Mile winner, King Of Swing, continues to head in the bright direction, and although coming off a win over Incognito and Gentle Giant, the colt is expected to give a good accounting. HEATHBERN BRUCE (4) has been safely held in each of his past two, but the Victorian should enjoy this trip and is open to a far more competitive showing. BALZING HOME (5) is unbeaten in eight starts, and that is an impressive stat, however, the David Kennedy-trained son of Rock N Roll Heaven has a far harder task awaiting him. Former Kiwi ON DEADLINE (7) is unbeaten in two starts for Nathan Turnbull, however, like Blazing Home, the Sportswriter colt will be facing his toughest test to date, The pair are certainly entitled to be considered when it comes to exotic transactions.
DANGEROUS 1, Don Hugo 2, Alta Meteor 3, Rocknroll Hammer 4.
With the benefit of two pleasing runs for Belinda and Luke McCarthy since crossing the Nullabor, ROCKOKOKO (8) is ready to open his winning account on the east coast. Second to Sure Thing Captain in the Simpson Memorial when resuming six month break and his trip from WA, the American Ideal colt then worked home steadily in posting a 17.4m 3rd to Peaceful and Dangerous a couple of weeks ago. Suited by the extended trip of 2400m, and with a higher level of fitness, Rockokoko is ready to take a power of beating. OUR SUNSET DELIGHT (7) is a talented member of the Chris Frisby team at Bathurst, with the son of Art Major coming off effortless wins on his home track in readiness for this important assignment. CATALPA RESCUE (6) is another promising type from the stables of Shane Sanderson. Following a hat-trick of wins, the latest as a $100.00 chance in the Caduceus 3YO Classic at Melton, the American Ideal colt struck trouble at Menangle a couple of weeks ago, resulting in a well-beaten 6th to Peaceful. Forget he went around and respect his claims. HOLD ONTO YA BLING (4) disappointed last time out in the race won by Peaceful, but his form prior certainly keeps him in the mix when it comes to the multiples. SPIRIT OF ARION (9) is a former Kiwi who debuted for the Belinda McCarthy with a slid all-the-way win at Newcastle. Although a harder assignment awaits, Spirit Of Arion looks to have claims as an exotic player.
ROCKOKOKO 1, Our Sunset Delight 2, Spirit Of Arion 3, Hold Onto Ya Bling 4.
The final heat looks a nice fit for the Nathan Turnbull trained and driven BETTER BE THE BEST (6), who also looks to be the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to the anchor investment on the card. Bosting eight wins from his 11 starts, Better Be The Best ended his first season of racing with an emphatic win in the G1 NSWBC Blue @Yo C&G’s Final last November. Stamping himself as a future headline act, Better Be The Best resumed at Bathurst on Feb 16, taking on older rivals and treating them contempt, despite doing a power of working, en route to his 5.6m defeat of Gabbys Reason and Chasing Better Days. The colt will take a power of beating. CAPTAIN HAMMERHEAD (1) managed to nail down a couple of wins to start his career, prior to a solid 4.6m 3rd to Major Celebrity at this venue last August. The colt had a further start at Headquarters, which resulted in a 10.6m 5th to First Responder in the G1 2YO C&G’s Final, prior to heading off to the paddock. Formerly with Rod Lakey and now under the care of David Moran, the son of Captaintreacherous has been trialling well at Shepparton and looks ready to run a bold race from the pole. CHISELED (2) has posted two pleasing trials since a spell, finishing fourth each time, the latter when beaten 21m by Peaceful. Fitter and with the potential required to be a quality type, the Jason Hewitt trained and driven son of Huntsville is capable of a productive display. SURE THING CAPTAIN (3) won the Simpson Sprint in fine style, the third leg of a winning hat-trick following two wins at AP, however, his run came to a halt here a couple of weeks ago. Never a threat in recording a well-beaten 7th to Peaceful, the Queenslander has since trialled in fine fashion so don’t rule him out as a multiple player. SWEETHEART BART (5) led and narrowly accounted for the promising Oaks runner Sky Blu at this track, and although a harder task awaits, Luke McCarthy has always had a fine opinion of this Sweet Lou colt.
BETTER BE THE BEST 1, Captain Hammerhead 2, Chiseled 3, Sure Thing Captain 4.
– Form assessed by Mike Ko’cass