• Racing Tips
    Mick Ko’cass’s race-by-race guide to backing a winner at Menangle Mick Ko’cass’s race-by-race guide to backing a winner at Menangle

    THE ONE TO BEAT: Bettor Enforce

    RACE ONE: Ideally drawn in gate three, fitter for one run back from a two-month break and boasting an abundance of talent, ZEUSS BROMAC... Mick Ko’cass’s race-by-race guide to backing a winner at Menangle
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    Ideally drawn in gate three, fitter for one run back from a two-month break and boasting an abundance of talent, ZEUSS BROMAC (3) appeals as an ideal way to start proceedings on what will be a program dominated by short-priced elects. Prepared by Hall of Famer Paul Fitzpatrick and to be driven by son Gavin, Zeuss Bromac is coming off a brave 2.2m 3rd to Burnham Boy and Moreau Drive a couple of weeks ago, when the winner managed to ‘zip’ home in a 26.4 final quarter. Prior to that display, Zeuss Bromac saluted the judge in the 3YO C&G’s Breeders Crown Final at Melton on November 21, courtesy of a brilliant front-running drive by Kerryn Manning. ‘Group One’ Gav will be looking to produce a ‘carbon copy’ drive in guiding the son of Bettors Delight to the seventh win of his career. Also stripping fitter, but drawing deeper, is MACH DA VINCI (9), which is more than capable of being involved in the finish. To be driven by Blake Fitzpatrick, the Peter Hanson-conditioned son of Art Major resumed from a four-month lay-off at this venue a week ago, with the run resulting in a fading 15.7m 4th to Shoobee Doo, following a kind run behind the leader. Coming off a successful term of racing, Mach Da Vinci is bound to play a far more active role in the finish this time around. MOREAU DRIVE (1) also looms as a threat after the Belinda McCarthy-trained mare drew ideally in gate one. Following a win over subsequent winner, and stablemate Dream To Share, the 7yo then worked home stoutly in splitting Burnham Boy and Zeuss Bromac on January 21. The daughter of The Warp Drive will receive every chance from this draw. That particular trip appears to be the main players when it comes to forming exotic transactions, which leaves THE MUSTANG (7) next in line. The son of Changeover is coming off an 18.2m 7th to Shoobee Doo but expect a far better display as the 4yo was hindered by a flat tyre on that occasion. His form prior was sound and exotic claims must be considered. Include AIR TIME (4), ISLAND BANNER (6) and NAVUA STAR (11) in that regard.

    ZEUSS BROMAC 1, Mach Da Vinci 2, Moreau Drive 3, The Mustang 4.


    This is one of the more open events on the card and with gate two an appealing starting position, KATCHAR SHOOBEE (2) is worth the gamble. Prepared by Brian Portelli, who will also take the reins, Katchar Shoobee led throughout in winning here two starts ago, accounting for Arma Naughty and Wahs Fire Bug, prior to again attempting to greet the judge, courtesy of again dictating the terms, only to be run down late by Lets Go To Brazil and Bronski Belle. The task this time around appears slightly harder, however, the 4yo son of Shoobees Place will give plenty of cheek. The main danger is the pole-marker BRACKEN KNIGHT (1) which brings solid Penrith form to Headquarters. Following a hat-trick of minor placings the Paul Fitzpatrick-trained 5yo led throughout, courtesy of an astute drive by Sean Grayling, in defeating Nitro Lad and Jedi Mind. The draw will give Grayling the opportunity to present the son of Always A Virgin with a couple of options, either hold and dictate or take a sit and stalk the pace before staking his claim for the top spot. APHORISM (3) has also drawn nicely in three and following his solid win at Bathurst on Wednesday night, the son of Well Said is certainly racing well enough to claim his second win in the space of five days. LANI KAI BEACH (7) raced keenly in a three-peg role last week when a solid 4.5m 3rd to Dream To Share. While the Ian Wilson-trained son of Camlach doesn’t win out of turn, the 8yo is also a consistent type and is worthy of attention in a race of this nature. WHISKEY BLAZE (8) hit the line with intent last week in recording a 2.3m 2nd to Dream To Share. The 8yo stays in the multiple mix while BETTOR TO BE TRICKY (6) also have claims as an exotic runner.

    KATCHAR SHOOBEE 1, Bracken Knight 2, Aphorism 3, Lani Kai Beach 4.


    With the Hunter Cup just a couple of weeks away, defending champion and Miracle Mile star KING OF SWING (11) will have his final hit-out before heading down the highway. Now under the care of Belinda McCarthy, the son of Rocknroll Hanover is ‘better than ever’ according to Belinda’s husband Luke, who continues to heap praise on his super-star, six-year-old. After enjoying a month off, following his brilliant win in the 2680m G1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on December 12, King Of Swing ‘toyed’ with his rivals in defeating stablemates Alta Orlando and Wrangler over the Menangle 2300m on January 9, and in the process scorching over the final 400m in 25.7. Minutes after the race the ‘King’ wouldn’t have blown out a candle. McCarthy will allow King Of Swing to open the race in ‘cruise control’ as the pair cross to the pegs, prior to switching into ‘overdrive’ for the run down the Menangle straight, ensuring that the entire has a solid finish to the race as he prepares for his showdown with another super-star, the Victorian Lochinvar Art. This ‘stoush’, both in the Hunter Cup and the Miracle Mile, with be Ali and Frasier all over again as the two heavy weights in harness racing stake their claims for greatness. With the ‘King’ to start around the $1.04 mark, which will be generous, exotics investments will be the only way to attack this race and the likely ‘anchor’ for second spot is another Belinda McCarthy entrant in BRIGHT ENERGY (8), with the talented Leonard Cain taking the reins. The 6yo was given his chance in a handful of feature races in Queensland during the month of December, with a solid 5.2m 4th to Cruz in the G2 Queensland Cup and a gritty and unlucky head 2nd to One Change in the Christmas Cup being the highlights, either wide of a 23.5m 8th to King Of Swing in the Black A Fake. That form is certainly superior to the form on offer from his rivals, leaving King Of Swing out of the equation. MAKOA (9) had been racing in fine fashion before again working hard, but this time fading on his effort in posting a 22.9m 9th to Mafuta Vautin a week ago. The Jack Trainor-prepared son of Art Major has a difficult draw, out in eight, which is less the reserve, but he is worthy of exotic attention, along with HIDDEN COURAGE (7), BETTOR VISION (3), OUTRAGEOUS EL (5) and BURNHAM BOY (10) who has been impressive in three runs for Kevin Pizzuto since coming from NZ, winning two, but this will be a harder test, with the wide gate also a hurdle.

    KING OF SWING 1, Bright Energy 2, Makoa 3, Hidden Courage 4.


    Only eight runners will face the starter, and although OBI ONE (8) has drawn the outside alley, the Amanda Turnbull trained and driven son of McArdle appeals as the one to beat, despite being off the scene since last August. The last time the 5yo faced the starter and race conditions was at Bendigo when he recorded a moderate 13.5m last to My Bettor Lady. The sparingly-raced gelding has only 15 starts to his credit, with five wins and the same number of minors, so he has always shown above-average talent. Obi One has had the benefit of two solid Bathurst trials, the latter on Monday when a 1.5m 3rd to the promising He Aint Fakin, who will be a major factor in the feature event on the card, the G2 Simpson Memorial. It is interesting to note that Obi One last greeted the judge just over a year ago, and that was over this course and distance, and in doing so, made it three wins from as many starts at Headquarters. ARMA NAUGHTY (5) has been mixing her form of late but her best form is certainly good enough to test this field. A pleasing 2nd to Katchar Shoobee was followed by a respectable 10.4m 7th to Alta Orlando at Goulburn on Jan 17. The Scott Hewitt-trained mare will find this challenge more to her liking, compared to competing against a Miracle Mile placegetter. TEAM OF STARZZZ (7) has been a consistent performer for trainer Geoff Day, and surprisingly, the son of Four Starzzz Shark has managed to greet the judge since scoring at Melton back in March/2019 when under the care Tiarn Sutton. Team Of Starzzz is coming off a solid 4.4m 4th to Island Banner, and although the draw is a shade tricky, Will Rixon will have the 10yo ready to make his presence felt when ‘things’ get serious. BOLTA (1) has been unplaced in four of his past five, but the 6yo has been disgraced along the way. Last time out, which was a week ago, the Leon Jurd-trained son of Betterthancheddar finished a 10.7m 6th to Birdy Mach. Ideally drawn in one and with a suitable assignment on the table, Bolta isn’t a ‘bolter’ in the field. Exotic claims go the way of BACKINTOWN (3) and LUCKY NUTTER (4).

    OBI ONE 1, Arma Naughty 2, Team Of Starzzz 3, Bolta 4.


    The G2 Boden Projects Simpson Memorial is the main bout on the card and with an ideal starting role, gate three, the Bathurst Gold Crown winner, TASTY DELIGHT (3) is entitled to top billing, but only just as HES AINT FAKIN (7) and WATTS UP SUNSHINE (5) are poised to make a bold play for the title. The Brian Portelli trained and driven star has been off the scene since finishing 2nd to the classy Victorian, who at the time was under the care of Craig Cross, in both a semi-final and Final of the G1 NSWBC for 2YO C&G’s, respectively, back in October. On each occasion the son of Bettors Delight was left exposed outside of the leader after drawing wide. Portelli has given Tasty Delight two trials, the first resulting is a comfortable win while the latter on January 20, was fair 13.8m 5th to Jazzy Star, although the final 400m was a swift 26.8. Keen to make his rivals play ‘catch-up’, Portelli is bound to look for the pegs and make sure he is the one dictating the terms. HE AINT FAKIN (7) is definitely the ‘real deal’ having won five from 11 while being placed on a couple of occasions. The Chris Frisby-trained son of Art Major has been freshened since a gallant 2.8m 5th to Kashed Up in the NSWBC Western Regional 2YO Championship at Wagga on November 20. On that occasion He Aint Fakin covered more ground than Burke and Wills and his effort to finish, as close as he did, was brave to say the least. The recently turned 3yo has had three Bathurst trials, winning the middle one by 32.8m, so Frisby has his outstanding youngster ready to stake a strong claim for the major share of the prizemoney. WATTS UP SUNSHINE (5) was racing in fine fashion for trainer Rickie Alchin, prior to having little luck in the 2YO C&G’s Crown Final at Melton on November 21, due to a 2nd row draw and a tough trip home, resulting in a 24.6m 11th to Major Moth. The Sunshine Beach 3yo has had the benefit of a recent sound 2nd to Jazzy Star in a Menangle trial. MANILA PLAYBOY (2) has drawn ideally in two and, as a result, the Shane Fraser-trained son of Pet Rock has claims when it comes to forming exotic investments. The gelding faces a tougher test, compared to his recent assignments at AL and Redcliffe, but a kind run will certainly boost his prospects of a good account. LYRICAL GENIUS (11) has just four runs to his credit, but the Amanda Turnbull trained and driven son of Somebeachsomewhere has shown plenty of potential in winning his past three in fine style on the country circuit. This will be a big jump in class, with the draw also against him, but he remains a factor when it comes to the exotics. WOW HES A ROCK STAR (4) ended his previous term of racing with a hit, then resumed with another number one performance when an effortless winner at Newcastle a week ago. This will be a far harder experience for the son of Rock N Roll Heaven, but the lightly-raced 3yo does have claims as a value exotic player.

    TASTY DELIGHT 1, He Aint Fakin 2, Watts Up Sunshine 3, Manila Playboy 4.


    It is impossible to go past BETTOR ENFORCE (7) as the one to beat, with the outstanding Belinda McCarthy-trained mare looking to stretch her winning sequence to four, and seven from her past eight trips to the races. The mare’s only defeat was probably one of her finest career displays, a brave 2nd to Speak No Evil in the 2760m Queen of the Pacific at Melton on October 31, when she led until the final few strides of the ‘tough test’ of character and talent. The daughter of Bettors Delight has won her past three over this course and distance since that defeat, with the 8yo confronted by familiar rivals once again. And, as per usual, Bettor Enforce has drawn the outside gate, but, as per usual, Luke McCarthy will attack from the outset and that will result in the pair stamping their authority on the race from the outset. From that point onwards the race will be ‘on’ for the minors. Leading the charge will be a stablemate of Bettor Enforce in NO WIN NO FEED (6), which is certainly a class-act in her own right. Freshened, following a campaign in both Victoria and Queensland, the 5yo last raced on December 12 when a photo 2nd to Escalera at AP. Prior to heading to the ‘sunshine state’, No Win No Feed was far from disgraced in posting a 15.2m 6th to Speak No Evil in the Queen of the Pacific, prior to posting a solid all-the-way win at Melton a month later. No Win No Feed has the speed to cross over to the pegs, then passing the baton over to Bettor Enforce. NOSTRA VILLA (4) has posted a number of fine efforts in similar assignments, the latest a couple of weeks ago when she recorded a gritty 5.3m 4th, courtesy of a kind trip in transit behind the leader. MAKE MINE HEAVEN (5) did it the tough way when successful at Bathurst last time out and her claims as an exotic runner should be taken into account. There is no doubt that the outstanding Queensland mare PELOSI (3) can turn her form around after a 14.7m last (6 runners) to Bettor Enforce on January 16. Prior to heading south for that engagement, the 4yo choked down and failed to finish in the race won by Georgie Martin at AP. The mare was a $1.55 chance for that race. Trainer Anna Woodmansey will be hoping that her mare can show the type of form which enabled her to grab two feature wins at this venue. In looking for value runners for a suitable exotic return and ARMA HOTSHOT (2) and DRACARYS (1) fit the bill due to drawing ideally close to the pegs, as marker runners will have a big advantage down the testing Menangle straight.

    BETTOR ENFORCE 1, No Win No Feed 2, Nostra Villa 3, Make Mine Heaven 4.


    Like his stablemates King Of Swing and Bettor Enforce, EXPENSIVE EGO (8) will start in ‘deep’ red figures and like those who share the same address, the exciting 4yo will ‘bank’ another winner’s cheque. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven was looking to make it ‘four from four’ since joining the Cobbitty Equine training establishment, however, he had his attempt thwarted, courtesy of another resident from that address. Working from his wide gate, Expensive Ego kept grinding away gamely over the final stages, but due to enjoying a far kinder run, The Croupier was able to ‘roll the dice’ in snatching victory in the last stride of the 1609m challenge. Luke McCarthy was full of praise when assessing the run of Expensive Ego, and with ‘ego’ not being a dirty word, the pair will have plenty of that when it comes to facing the starter for this assignment. Boasting nine wins and two placings from just a dozen encounters, Expensive Ego has every right to have an ego. Take the short-price favourite out of the equation and the race takes on an open appearance. ALWAYS ROCKIN (4) did a fine job four runs back when a 21.1m 4th to King Of Swing, with the long-shot working home nicely over the final 200m, albeit, via the pegs. His two unplaced runs since, both resulting in finishing 7th, have been useful, the latter a week ago when beaten 11.7m by Birdy Mach after being left exposed outside of the leader and eventual winner. Suitably drawn, the Jason Grimson-trained 7yo is capable of a bold display. BETTERTHANFAST (3) is a former Kiwi who joins the in-form Amanda Turnbull team following a creditable career back home. The 5yo has raced since a 4th to Fabrizio in the Timaru Cup (2600ss) on December 5, but two sound trial placings at Bathurst have him ready to run a bold race, with his good draw being an added plus. BAILEYS KNIGHT (7) is coming off a solid win here a week ago, courtesy of a superb drive by Robert Morris, and although the challenge will be a lot harder, the 7yo son of Christian Cullen should be added to multiple transaction. BOB WHEEL (2) goes around as an outsider, but his past two runs have been handy enough to suggest exotic prospects, especially from the good draw.

    EXPENSIVE EGO 1, Always Rockin 2, Betterthanfast 3, Baileys Knight 4.


    Although a shade disappointing a week ago, DROP THE HAMMER (9) looks the one to beat in what will be a slightly easier assignment for the Darren Hancock trained and driven son of Bettors Delight. Attempting to complete a hat-trick of wins on his favoured circuit, Drop The Hammer posted a 25m 4th to the classy Tough Monarch, despite having a good run in the one-one, prior to entering the home straight in a handy, three peg role. Hancock will go in search of a favourable role close to the action, with the role as dictator a distinct possibility. Such a role will result in Drop The Hammer being well on his way towards ‘nailing down’ the 23rd win of his career, all recorded at this venue. The interesting runner is the former Victorian SAMMY SHOWDOWN (7) who now races under the guidance of Paul Fitzpatrick. During the Miracle Mile carnival of 2020, when under the care of Kylie Sugars, Sammy Showdown recorded a metre 3rd to Big Jack Hammer and Red Hot Tooth in the G1 Trotters Mile. That is his only start at this venue, but he is a naturally talented performer, and he is more than capable of stretching the neck of the ‘track specialist’, despite coming off a 31m 6th to Havehorsewilltravel in the Cobram Trotters Cup on January 10. Last-start stand winner REVY JAY (8) has won three of her six engagements since a spell and is again capable of giving a good account while GALLEONS GLORY (5) has lifted her game of late, with the mare posting two sound wins and a last-start 3rd to Tough Monarch and Arnold. Growing in confidence, the 7yo can’t be taken lightly while MONARO MIA (6) looks to be the other piece to the exotic puzzle.

    DROP THE HAMMER 1, Sammy Showdown 2, Revy Jay 3, Galleons Glory 4.


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