• Racing Tips
    In prime condition for title defence In prime condition for title defence

    HARDHITTER - Photo Ashlea Brennan

    REIGNING champion Hardhitter is in perfect condition as his title defence continues at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. That’s the warning from record-breaking... In prime condition for title defence

    REIGNING champion Hardhitter is in perfect condition as his title defence continues at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.

    That’s the warning from record-breaking trainer Emma Stewart ahead of the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge semi-finals.

    Winner of last season’s Group One decider, the Australian Pacing Gold eligible youngster is engaged in the opening three-year-old semi.

    “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Stewart said. “He is in top shape and ready to go on with it.”

    Successful at his last two starts – including a series heat four weeks ago – Hardhitter has drawn to lead throughout from barrier two.

    The son of Mach Three will be driven by champion reinsman Luke McCarthy.

    “The draw is in his favour and will make him hard to beat,” Stewart said. “With that said, there are some nice horses in the field, so he will have to be at his best.

    “It won’t be an easy task, but I’m confident he is ready to win.”

    Citing Lochinvar Art as the main danger, Stewart is also wary of Lets Go To Brazil and The Texas Ranger.

    Triumphant at his last four starts, Lochinvar Art boasts the imposing record of 12 wins and nine placings from 21 starts.

    Prepared by Laura Crossland, the colt has drawn awkwardly in barrier seven.

    The Texas Ranger, winner of his last two outings, will come from gate nine, with Lets Go To Brazil drawn 10.

    No stranger to top shelf glory around the world class circuit, Max Delight is the favourite in the second semi for trainer David Aiken.

    Winner of the New South Wales Derby last March, Max Delight captured his Challenge heat when first-up from a 12-week break.

    The Australian Pacing Gold purchase has drawn barrier seven but slots into six with the removal of the emergency.

    “He put in a pretty handy first-up run and has improved since,” Aiken said. “His time off did him the world of good and he will certainly keep improving as he goes along.

    “The draw isn’t the best, but he is capable of overcoming it with the right run.”

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    Paul Courts

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