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  • Racing Tips

    AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME: Alta Orlando wins last weekend's Schweppes Sprint at Menangle. He'll have Mark Purdon aboard in the Miracle Mile

    RACE ONE: After returning from a respectable Victoria Derby campaign, which resulted in a 10.7m 7th to Line Up in the feature event, the... MIKE KO’CASS PREVIEWS MIRACLE MILE NIGHT AT MENANGLE


    After returning from a respectable Victoria Derby campaign, which resulted in a 10.7m 7th to Line Up in the feature event, the Paul Court-trained MACH DA VINCI (5) peeled off a couple of solid all-the-way wins at this venue, prior to tackling a heat of the NSW Derby last week. From a wide gate the talented colt was left exposed outside the leader, but Still managed to battle on gamely, just missing out on a spot in the Final, after posting a 6.9m 5th to Perfect Stride. With the benefit of an improved draw and a return to a suitable challenge, Mach Da Vinci appears to be an ideal investment. The Grant Dixon duo of MACHEASY (2) and AQUA MISS (1) appeal as the main threats, courtesy of drawing ideally. Both have been racing consistently since campaigning south of the border, with Macheasy coming off a solid 6.3m 2nd to Mach Da Vinci a couple of weeks ago. Aqua Miss is poised to receive a cosy run from the pole and hIs past two runs have been creditable, following a solid win over She Envy. OHOKA JOHNNY (4) has won his past two on the provincial circuit in fine fashion and is capable of being in the mix, particularly as an exotic runner, from his good draw. DEANNE PANYA (3) has won five of her seven starts since leaving NZ and joining the Roy Roots Jnr stable. The mare will be having her first Menangle assignment, and as a result, this assignment will be by far her most demanding. However, she has been impressive and warrants exotic involvement. Other exotic chances include DRIVE THE DREAM (10) and PETES BIG JIM (7) and now that former Kiwi mare SOCIABLE (6), gets a run, respect her claims as she is now under the care of Craig Cross.


    TIPS: MACH DA VINCI 1, Macheasy 2, Aqua Miss 3, Ohoka Johnny 4.



    IDEALLY drawn in gate three, CRUZ (3) has the chance to show a return to winning form, with the Craig Cross-prepared 6yo also returning to a suitable challenge after chasing My Field Marshal home of late. Following a gritty half-neck 2nd to the 2018 Miracle Mile winner, Cruz then battled on stoutly when beaten 4.6m into 6th spot behind the upcoming Miracle Mile hopeful, with another contestant for the title in Alta Orlando in 2nd spot. Following a couple of costly defeats at AP, COLT THIRTY ONE (1) failed to fire from a suitable, three peg role, last week when a 14.9m 9th to Alta Orlando in the G1 Schweppes Sprint. However, the classy 5yo is a lot better than his recent form would suggest and he is deserving of another chance, especially after drawing the pole. BRIGHT ENERGY (11) has drawn the outside gate, however, the 5yo is racing in outstanding fashion, with his win here last week over Demon Delight and Balraj, simply superb. IM ANOTHERMASTERPIECE (9) had no luck last week when trapped three deep at a vital stage of the Allied Express Sprint, resulting in a 27.6m last to King Of Swing. The Kiwi is entitled to further attention when it comes to forming multiple investments. Others to include in that regard include ATOMIC RED (10), BROCKS TERRITORY (4) and OUR ALFIE ROMEO (8), with the mare coming off a handy 7.5m 8th to Bettors Heart in the G1 Ladyship Mile a week ago after being held up for a suitable run.


    CRUZ 1, Colt Thirty One 2, Bright Energy 3 Im Anothermasterpiece 4.



    CLASSY mare DANCE CRAZE (4) is entitled to top billing in the G1 trotters event, following an impressive win in the Grand Prix at Melton last week. Trapped three wide early, the mare was then able to enjoy the one-one, before reeling in two classy types in Tornado Valley and Temporale. The winner of two of her three Menangle assignments, the latter being the G3 La Coocaracha back in May, 2019, the Anton Golino-trained daughter of Muscle Hill has been a consistent performer throughout her 37-start career, which has resulted in 21 wins and nine placings. Suitably drawn in four, Dance Craze has the gate speed to occupy a forward role and that will again see her make her presence felt from the outset. TEMPORALE (3) will be looking to turn the tables on Dance Craze following his gritty 10.2m effort last week. The well-performed Kiwi 7yo will also be in the mix from the outset after drawing ideally in three. The winner of the Dullard Cup four starts ago, Temporale will enjoy the roomier Menangle circuit so respect his claims. TOUGH MONARCH (1) returns to home base after safely-held efforts at Melton in both the Great Southern Star and Grand Prix. The 8yo has 32 Menangle assignments next to his name for the imposing record of 15 wins and four placings, and with gate one a big plus, the Rickie Alchin trained and driven son of Monarchy is more than capable of displaying that type of form so don’t write him off. SAMMY SHOWDOWN (6) is the new boy on the block, having ended his previous campaign on a winning note, prior to resuming with five-straight wins. The Kylie Sugars trained and driven chestnut did a fine job when tackling a harder assignment at Melton a couple of weeks ago, with a 6m 4th to Tornado Valley coming his way after a bold attempt to dictate the 2240m challenge from start to finish. Exotic investors should include RED HOT TOOTH (8) and MAJESTIC COURTNEY (9) while MASSIVE METRO (10) is capable of an improved run after a couple of unplaced efforts at Melton.


    DANCE CRAZE 1, Temporale 2, Tough Monarch 3, Sammy Showdown 4.



    REGARDLESS of the venue, whether back home in New Zealand or on this side of the Tasman, OUR PRINCESS TIFFANY (7) and BELLE OF MONTANA (8) rarely disappoint, if at all, and once again these two exciting mares will clash and in the process provide another exciting spectacle. OUR PRINCESS TIFFANY secures top billing but only just following her gallant head 3rd to Bettors Heart and Bettor Enforce in the G1 Ladyship Mile last week. That was her first defeat at this venue after posting four wins. Prior to that defeat the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen prepared 4yo produced another gritty run when she greeted the judge in the G2 Robin Dundee, on this occasion accounting for Miracle Mile hopeful in Bettors Heart with Havtime grabbing third. The classy daughter of Art Major has drawn handily and no doubt Purdon will be keen to have his colours prominently on display from the outset, ensuring that Our Princess Tiffany is the one to beat. BELLE OF MONTANA brilliantly won the Ladyship Cup at Melton on Feb 1, defeating Bettor Enforce and Goodtime Heaven in the process, prior to a brave 1.4m 4th to Bettors Heart in the G1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle last week. The Barry Purdon-trained 4yo has an imposing record and the mare will again be in the thick of the action from the outset, as family bragging rights are up for grabs. Barry will also have HAVTIME (4) facing the starter and with gate four a vastly-improved starting role, compared to 10 last week in the Ladyship Mile, the daughter of Mach Three is capable of securing a role in the finish. The mare did a good job last week in grinding home stoutly for a 6m 6th and she is a definite contender for a role in the exotics. SOHO NOLITA (2) has drawn well and the mare is capable of improving on her past couple of unplaced runs so include the Victorian in exotic discussions. MISS STREISAND (5) and KEAYANG LIBERTY (6) also have claims in that regard.


    OUR PRINCESS TIFFANY 1, Belle Of Montana 2, Havtime 3, Soho Nolita 4.



    The NSW Derby has been thrown open following the draw, which has resulted in the major players drawing deep. However, Anthony Butt still holds the key to the race, courtesy of LINE UP (8) and PERFECT STRIDE (10). And, it comes as no surprise the star reinsman has elected to take the reins behind the Victoria Derby winner in Line Up. Since claiming victory in the classic event at Melton, the exciting colt has been beaten into second spot in each of his past two subsequent outings at this venue, the first when beaten a neck by his stablemate Perfect Stride, after being annoyed in the lead role, the latter a week ago in a heat of the NSW Derby. Left posted outside the leader and eventual winner in Pacifico Dream, Line Up continued to grind away gamely in a comfortably run 2400m, with the slow opening period, allowing the winner to reel of a 26.7s third quarter before wrapping up proceedings in 26.6. For Line Up to close the margin to 1.6m, his effort was full of merit. The same, easy, first half of the race won’t eventuate this time around and it won’t come as a surprise to see Line Up make a bold play for the role as pacemaker. PERFECT STRIDE is emerging as a class act in his own right, having finished a game 3rd to Line Up in the Victoria Derby, with two fine wins coming his way since returning to Menangle, the latter when he led throughout in a heat of this race a week ago. Versatile in his race pattern, Perfect Stride gives the stable a strong hand on the ‘blue riband’ event. Splitting the pair at the start is PACIFICO DREAM (9), the colt a lightly-raced member of the powerful Emma Stewart team, with a definite winning chance, despite the tricky draw. The colt led and was allowed to cruise through the opening 1600m, with Kima Frenning receiving a $100 fine for setting a 32.8s opening quarter of the last mile. As a result of having fresh legs for the trip home, Pacifico Dream was able to comfortably hold his rivals. Boasting a 50 per cent winning strike rate after just eight trips to the races, a tougher task awaits Pacifico Dream, however, you can never take a Stewart runner lightly, especially in a G1 event, and with Frenning driving in superb fashion, the 3yo still has plenty going for him. GENERAL JUJON (6) has the best draw, as far as the ‘big guns’ are concerned, and trainer-driver Grant Dixon will be keen to take full advantage of that situation. The classy Queensland colt did a big job in the Victoria Derby in posting a 1.6m 2nd to Line Up, prior to having no luck when an 11.3m 4th to Perfect Stride. The ‘General’ then saluted the judge when he led for the majority of his heat, en route to a solid win, with his final 400m covered in a swift 26.7m. Dixon will have the choice of holding the inside running in attempting an all-the-way win or at the very least, take a sit and await his chance for G1 glory, courtesy of the long and demanding Menangle straight. Exotic players should consider PERCY BAILEY (1), PRADASON (3) and MACH DAN (4) in the hope of adding some value to the dividend.


    LINE UP 1, Perfect Stride 2, Pacifico Dream 3, General Jujon 4.



    The G1 FFA will feature a number of runners which wouldn’t be out of place in the Miracle Mile. One such runner is the Roy Roots Jnr-trained THE BLACK PRINCE (6) which is definitely on the verge of a winning effort, following three excellent runs since a spell. Having his first run since last September, The Black Prince was left ‘parked’ when a brave 4.5m 4th to Majordan on Feb 8, prior to facing the starter in the G1 Newcastle Mile. Presented with a kind run behind the leader, the 5yo managed to post a pleasing 2.4m 3rd, with Majordan securing a Miracle Mile invite over Hail Christian. In an attempt to secure a spot in the $1m Miracle Mile, The Black Prince contested the Allied Express Sprint and his fast-finishing 3.8m 4th to King Of Swing caught the eye. Peaking in condition and with a suitable draw, The Black Prince is ready to play an active role in the finish. And, don’t be put off by his young driver Tom Ison, as this youngster has the talent to get the job done. His future looks bright so follow his career with confidence. OUR UNCLE SAM (2) will take a power of beating after finally coming up with a kind draw. Placed in multiple feature races over the past two seasons, Our Uncle Sam won the G1 Bohemia Crystal this time a year ago, and, as the runner-up in both the Shepparton Cup and the Hunter Cup, the ‘tough as teak’ Chris Frisby-trained 6yo continues to warrant plenty of respect. The gelding worked too hard from the outside gate in the Schweppes Sprint last week, resulting in a fading 13.5m 7th to Alta Orlando. The 2400m is also a plus and he will be in the fight, right up until the judge calls a halt. HAIL CHRISTIAN (11) will need luck from the deep draw, however, the 5yo rarely runs a bad race and his 7.5m 4th to Alta Orlando in the Schweppes Sprint was a pleasing effort. The longer trip will also assist the Kiwi in making his presence felt. Gate one is a big plus for the reliable WRANGLER (1), with the 6yo poised to receive a kind run, which will enable him to use his sprint to full advantage. Contesting the Allied Express Sprint a week ago, Wrangler held his ground well over the final stages in finishing a 4.4m 5th to King Of Swing. MACH SHARD (5) will also appreciate the extended trip following his respectable 8m 5th to Alta Orlando last week. Multiple combinations should also include BLING IT ON (7) and IGNATIUS (9).


    THE BLACK PRINCE 1, Our Uncle Sam 2, Hail Christian 3, Wrangler 4.


    RACE SEVEN: In stark contrast to Billy Joel’s big hit of 1980, It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me, and the words, ‘are you ready to cruise the miracle mile’, the 2020 edition of the Miracle Mile will be hitting top gear from the outset in what will be an intriguing and enthralling battle for early supremacy. The Craig Cross barn has two excellent chances in KING OF SWING (4) and ALTA ORLANDO (8), with champion Kiwi Mark Purdon to partner the latter. Prior to Mark’s booking, I gave the nod to the latter in the hope that the son of Courage Under Fire would avoid the early rush and secure a stalking role, maybe, the one-one or at the very least, three back in the running line. Keeping his powder dry until looming large as the field thundered into the long and demanding Menangle straight. The 8yo enjoyed a cosy run behind My Field Marshal in the Schweppes Sprint, en route to cruising past the 2018 champ. Over the final 80m, McCarthy just flicked the reins at Alto Orlando, who appeared to have something in reserve. The 8yo has had two runs from a break, so he will bring fresh legs into the race, and that is also appealing. Less the reserves and KING OF SWING will leave the machine from gate three, and that will be a huge plus for this progressive 5yo, who has come a long way in just four runs for the Cross-McCarthy combination. The classy 5yo debuted for the stable with a gritty 2nd to Ignatius, then peeled off a hat-trick of wins, including the Hunter Cup (2760m) and more recently, the G1 Allied Express Mile when he led throughout in comfortably defeating Code Bailey and A Gs White Socks. The margin was only two metres, but Luke McCarthy appeared to be ‘toying’ with his rivals. There are no better front-running drivers, particularly on this circuit than ‘Cool Hand Luke’, and, as most expect, if King Of Swing finds the lead, expect McCarthy to pull out another master class. MY FIELD MARSHAL (2) has also drawn perfectly in two, and that will give his master tactician, Anthony Butt a couple of game plans. The possibility of finding the back of King Of Swing will be appealing for the 2018 champ, who amazed the harness racing world with his 1:46.9 effort, becoming the fastest horse in the Southern Hemisphere as a result. The 8yo son of Art Major is more than capable of becoming the eighth member of ‘dual’ Miracle Mile winners. A Gs WHITE SOCKS (1) is a tough Kiwi 6yo who brilliantly won the Ballarat Cup before posting a gritty 5th to King Of Swing in the Hunter Cup. A Gs White Socks worked to the line with conviction in posting a 2.2m 3rd to King Of Swing last week and, with the prospect of receiving an economical run, maybe, three pegs, that will certainly assist his exotics prospects. CODE BAILEY (5) was brave in defeat behind King Of Swing in the Allied Express Sprint and he will again be a tough opponent. However, can he sustain the effort in a blistering run affair? LOCHINVAR ART (9) is an emerging star of the Grand Circuit racing and following his emphatic wins in both the 4YO Bonanza at Melton and the Chariots Of Fire, the ace 4yo is entitled to the utmost respect, But, the wide draw is a concern and this will be a far more explosive assignment at this stage of his career. However, if Lochinvar Art greeted the judge, it wouldn’t come a surprise either – he is that good.


    ALTA ORLANDO 1, King Of Swing 2, My Field Marshal 3, A GS White Socks 4.



    FROM the established stars to the rising stars, with the running of the G2 Sapling Stakes featuring a number of promising types. Victorian mentor David Moran holds the key to the race, courtesy of LOCHINVAR CHIEF (3), who will be driven by Jarrod Alchin, and PATSBEACHSTORM (12), an impressive son of Somebeachsomewhere. Moran has elected to drive Patsbeachstorm, who trialled impressively, prior to debuting with a comfortable all-the-way win over his stablemate on Feb 25. Keen to give his promising youngsters the chance to experience the, at times confronting Menangle track, due to the long run home, Moran elected to give the youngsters the chance to begin their careers here, and that will be a big plus heading into this assignment. Despite the outset, Patsbeachstorm will again prove hard to beat, with Lochinvar Chief again likely to keep him company in the run to the line. The Narelle McCarthy-trained CAPTAIN BRAVEHEART (9) also debuted with a fine Menangle win and he is poised to again make his presence felt. Rickie Alchin is confident that CAPTAIN CRUSADER (8) will make his presence felt following a solid all-the-way win at Newcastle. With natural improvement and the fact that the colt is trained here, the youngster is worthy of more than a passing thought. When forming exotic investments OUR UNCLE DAN (2) should be included as his debut 2nd at Parkes was pleasing and his ideal draw is a big plus. RICKOSHAY (4), ICANBOLT (6), TITAN RAIDER (7) and HE AINT FAKIN (10) also warrant exotic attention.


    PATSBEACHSTORM 1, Lochinvar Chief 2, Captain Braveheart 3, Captain Crusader 4.



    THE Craig Cross stable will be out in force for this event, as the Cobbitty mentor will be represented by three runners, all with claims on the major share of the prizemoney. OUR WALL STREET WOLF (4) has drawn well and is coming off a ‘confidence-boosting’ all the way win, albeit, in an easier assignment. The prospect of a favourable role close to the action will again result in the 6yo giving a good account. LITTLE RASCAL (8) didn’t have a great deal of luck here on Tuesday when a solid-finishing 7.3m 4th to Jack Farthing. Luke McCarthy will stick with the talented and consistent 8yo, and that is a good guide so respect his decision. HICKSTEAD (10) is coming off a strong 5.5m 3rd to Atomic Red a couple of weeks ago, and, as result the 7yo is entitled to more than a passing thought. The former Victorian has produced three good runs since joining Lucky Lodge and he will be at appealing odds. When playing the multiples, FLAMING FLUTTER (1), SPARE ME DAYS (3) and BAD BILLY (7) also have claims in that regard.


    OUR WALL STREET WOLF 1, Little Rascal 2, Hickstead 3, Flaming Flutter 4



    DESPITE the presence of gate 10, and the fact that he has been missing from the winner’s circle since March, last year, CANT REFUSE (11) gains the nod in a tough and open race to end the night. Since arriving from Victoria to join the Craig Cross team, the 7yo has been consistent and costly, however, this should be a useful assignment, despite coming off a rare ‘miss’ when an 11.3m 9th to Atomic Red. If, Can’t Refuse can have some luck in running, he should be right in the finish. LETSPENDANITETOGETHA (1) is looking to secure his first win since last June, and, like Cant Refuse, the 7yo is rarely far from the action. Such was the case here on Tuesday when he worked home nicely in recording a 2.7m 3rd to Jack Farthing. Gate one is a big plus in this field so expect to see Letspendanitetogetha fighting out the finish. BLAZIN N CULLEN (2) has a very similar story line to the other pair, with the 10yo looking to greet the judge for the first time in a year. The veteran has drawn ideally and is racing well enough to be a definite contender. Let’s hope the above-mentioned trio have totally forgotten where the winning post is situated. JACK FARTHING (7) didn’t have any trouble finding it on Tuesday when he accounted for Replaced Eye and Letspendanitetogetha. The 5yo draws a shade deeper for this assignment but that won’t be enough to hinder his claims. UNDER WORKED (8) should also be included in exotic investments.


    CANT REFUSE 1, Letspendanitetogetha 2, Blazin N Cullen 3, Jack Farthing 4.


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