February 8, 2024 National Trotguide
Despite being first-up since late November and drawing wide, BROOKLYN BRIDGE (8) appeals as the one to beat. Prepared by Jarrod Alchin the son of Sweet Lou is undefeated since joining the astute Menangle mentor, with the pair coming for a win at Headquarters on November 18 when the 5yo comfortably accounted for Im In Trouble and Captain Ritchie. A week later, and with Cam Hart replacing Will Rixon in the sulky, Brooklyn Bridge led throughout in easily 0defeating Double Encounter and Rickoshay. In readiness for his return Brooklyn Bridge contested a Menangle trial, and although finishing a 12.4m 6th to Roll Up, with the likes of Our Vinnie and Dougs Player filling the minors, at no stage did Cam Hart place the 5yo under any pressure, remaining hard on the back of the runner ahead of him all the way down the straight. The trial was a lot better than it appears on paper. In an open contest Brooklyn Bridge is capable of keeping his unbeaten record since joining Jarrod intact. ROLL UP (10) has been mixing his form of late, but in fairness to the son of Roll With Joe, it has been in races won by Our Money Rocks, Petes Said So, Hi Manameisjeff, prior to a solid 3.4m 2nd to Whereyabinboppin. The Luke McCarthy-trained 6yo then posted a 19m 7th to Star Major when five pegs and held up for a suitable run at a vital stage. That was back in mid-December and with the benefit of a pleasing trial win, Roll Up, despite drawing the outside gate, will be a serious player once again. The consistent LAST TANGO IN HEAVEN (3) has drawn suitably in three and while he hasn’t won since last March, the KerryAnn Morris-conditioned 6yo is capable of producing another competitive showing. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven is coming off a 7.2m 4th to the classy Our Cosmic Major so expect another honest display. ARDENS ACE (5) has been runner-up in his past two engagements, firstly behind Our Cosmic Major when beaten a half-neck, then a week ago when collared late by Unfazed when beaten a half-head. The 6yo will again be in the mix from the outset so don’t ignore the son of Art Major as a potential threat. When it comes to forming multiple transactions DARK TERROR (4) is worthy of inclusion while HEAVENLY HOLLY (1) and CASSIUS DECK (6) are value players to include.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE 1, Roll Up 2, Last Tango In Heaven 3, Ardens Ace 4.
Victorian mentor Michael Stanley has arrived with an impressive selection of runners and UBETCHA TIGERPIE (6) has the talent to get the southern visitor off to a positive start. Boasting six wins and 12 placings from his 27 starts, The son of Betting Line recorded a solid 1.5m 2nd to Earl Of Pembroke in the Wedderburn Pacing Cup, prior to enjoying a kind run behind the leader in finishing too well for Modern Bliss and Springfield Affair at Melton last week. The 5yo is likely to be prominently placed from the outset so expect the ‘tiger’ to again roar into action in proving hard to beat. ROCKOKOKO (5) will provide the Victorian with strong opposition after drawing one spot closer to the pegs. Since scoring at Headquarters four runs ago, the 4yo has been costly in his subsequent three runs, with the Luke McCarthy trained and driven son of American Ideal runner-up twice, either side of a 19.5m 7th to Shades Of Heaven. Rockokoko is coming off a solid finishing half-neck 2nd to Lous Dream last time out and on that run he must be given further attention. Seaton Grima has STRAVINSKY (8) racing in peak form with the son of Sunshine Beach leading throughout each time in defeating Dark Terror and Major Statement before again posting a slick 1:50.2 in proving too good for My Ultimate Snowy and Celestial Gossip last week. Once again, Seaton won’t leave anything in the locker so don’t ignore the pair. MY ULTIMATE SNOWY (9) has drawn deep but the 4yo is capable of again being thereabouts when the judge calls a halt. The son of Sweet Lou should be linked to exotic investments, along with NICHOLAS CAGE (10) which played a starring role at Menangle last week when the former Kiwi finished strongly in defeating Our Uncle Jim and Reactor Factor. The Luke McCarthy trained and driven son of Art Major has drawn out deep this time in a stronger contest. That may result in Nicholas cage plating a supporting role this time around. When forming multiple investments the Bailey McDonough trained and driven CELESTIAL GOSSIP (1) should be considered from his ideal pole position while SIE RICHARD LEE (3) and HANDS ON (4), both KerryAnn Morris runners, have drawn well and will provide value.
UBETCHA TIGERPIE 1, Rockokoko 2, Stravinsky 3, My Ultimate Snowy 4.
Michael Stanley will provide two of the major players in SOHO MOONRAKER (10) and YAHOO (6) and both must be rated highly. SOHO MOONRAKER has drawn wide but has his record of four wins and the placings, all as runner-up, would suggest, the 4yo son of Sweet Lou has plenty of talent. Spelled after defeating Cheerstolou and Dougs Platter in the final of the Vicbred 3YO C&G’s Silver at Bendigo last September, Soho Moonraker resumed with a 7.9m 4th to Earl Of Pembroke in the 2690m Wedderburn Cup when he attempted to lead throughout. Fitter for that outing, Soho Moonraker will attack this event with a higher level of fitness. YAHOO (6) is a lightly-raced 4yo which has contested nine races for three wins and the same number of placings. The son of Vincent has contested two races since last august, with a 6.7m 4th to Another Nien at Bendigo when resuming, followed by a head 2nd, as an odds-on favourite, when he led in finishing 2nd to Sassyola. Like his stablemate, Yahoo is starting to build into his latest term of racing and from his useful draw the gelding will have plenty to offer. Michael’s decision on who he will partner will be a good guide. The consistent CARLO GAMBINO (3) is deserving of another win as he looks to break a long sequence without a trip to the top spot. The Chris Judd owned and trained 10yo has been placed in five of his past seven engagements and while he hasn’t won since last March, the son of Mach Three is always capable of assisting when it comes to exotic combinations. REACTOR FACTOR (4) followed a 6m 3rd to Mister Robin Hood with a 4.4m 3rd behind Nicholas Cage here last week when he was held up for a clear run in the straight until late in posting a sound 4.4m 3rd to Nicholas Cage. A useful draw will again assist the 7yo son of Auckland Reactor in playing a role in the finish. The Jackson Painting trained and driven LOCH LOMOND (9) is coming of an emphatic all-the-way win at Cobram a month ago when he defeated Ambiguous and Sofala. The 4yo has drawn wide in a competitive race, however, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven is entitled to be linked to multiple investments. FREDDY SINGH (8) is rarely far away and stays in the exotic mix while BAXTER RED (5) has won four of his past six starts on the out-of-town tracks and is also worthy of attention.
SOHO MOONRAKER 1, Yahoo 2, Carlo Gambino 3, Reactor Factor 4.
YOUTAKEMYBREATHAWAY (2) had favourite punters gasping for air when the mare beat only one runner home at this venue a week ago. Drifting in the market, the Jason Grimson-trained, former Kiwi, was beaten for early speed from the pole but Jack Brown soon had the daughter of Bettors Delight outside of the leader and eventual winner, Ardens Delight. With Jack Trainor rating the winner to perfection, resulting in a 26.9 final 400m, Youtakemybreath away had little to offer in the run home and was beaten 13.3m in the process. The run was in stark contrast to her first runner for the stable when, after beginning roughly at the start when she drew gate one, the mare again competed from outside of the leader in recording a game 2m 2nd to Norms Lady at Ballarat on January 20. The run was certainly a quality display and with further fitness assisting her, Youtakemybreathaway will bounce back strongly. The reserve out and the 8yo again draws the pole position so it will be interesting to see if Cam Hart looks to push her when the green light is activated. CLASSIC MIX UP (4) looms as the main threat, despite the Jarrod Alchin-trained mare coming off a safely held effort at this venue a couple of weeks ago. Drawing deep and restrained early, then being inconvenienced, the daughter of American Ideal was never a serious factor in posting an 11.5m 7th to Bravo Stride. Prior to that effort Classic Mix Up led throughout in defeating Mini Mine Yet and Itzmineontheline at Headquarters. The suitable draw is a big plus so expect another strong showing from Classic Mix Up. BOLOGNA (6) won a couple of back-to-back wins at Penrith before a 2m 2nd to Freddy Singh before a 1.6m 3rd behind Im Desirable and Terryrama at Bathurst when a costly odds-on elect. The sparingly-raced 5yo daughter of A Rocknroll Dance is entitled to another chance. PAS DE CHEVAL (7) had been racing consistently on the country circuit before a creditable 8.5m 6th to Ardens Delight here a week ago when she was held up for a clear run until well into the straight. The final 70m was solid and with better luck in running, Pas De Cheval is capable of playing a role in the finish. When it comes to forming multiple investments POLKA DELIGHT (9), IM DESIRABLE (10) and THERESA LOVE (11), which have all drawn wide, are worthy of consideration.
YOUTAKEMYBREATHAWAY 1, Classic Mix Up 2, Bologna 3, Pas De Cheval 4.
The highlight event on the card is the Hondo Grattan Stakes, an important stepping stone for higher honours, firstly, the Chariots of Fire, then the Miracle Mile. The Mark and Nathan Purdon-trained DONT STOP DREAMING (6), despite the race overflowing with exciting talent, looks the one to beat. The highly-regarded Kiwi is a son of Bettors Delight and, to date has managed to convert 12 of his 18 starts into wins while finishing runner-up on four occasions, with a third thrown into the mix. His only unplaced effort resulted in a 2m fourth. Leaving his homeland on a winning note, Dont Stop Dreaming contested his first race on this side of the Tasman at Melton on January 27, with the entire drawing the inside of the back row for the running of the Allied Express Classic (FFA) over 2240m. Perfectly positioned in the one-one by Mark Purdon, the 4yo hit the line strongly in failing by a half-head when beaten by Better Eclipse, with the pair going stride-for-stride down the straight. The star Kiwi had to settle for second spot once again when he faced the starter for the running of the prestigious 2760m A.G Hunter Cup at Melton a week ago. Once again, Dont Stop Dreaming drew the back row, with a midfield spot in the running line coming his way. The odds-on elect and the headline act for the majority of his career in Leap To Fame was out front and dictating the terms to perfection, courtesy of Grant Dixon. Looming up three deep on the point of the home turn, Dont Stop Dreaming ‘skipped’ for a few strides, resulting in Mark Purdon taking hold of the reins. With his momentum hindered as a result, Dont Stop Dreaming regained his composure and was making hitting the line with intent. When the judge called a halt, Leap To Fame has a margin of 1.6m to spare over the gallant Kiwi. Did the loss of momentum at the top of the straight cost him victory or at the very least, making things a lot more interesting at the completion of the testing journey. Maybe not, the former as Grant may have had a little left in the locker with Leap To Fame, But the distance between these two exciting stars may have been a little closer. If, the reserves are not required, Dont Stop Dreaming will occupy gate five, a suitable starting position, however, a number of his main rivals have drawn better and have the speed to make their presence know from the outset. With the long Menangle straight being a big plus, Dont Stop Dreaming can sit off the speed and wait until the long run home comes into play, then power his way into the Chariots of Fire. CAPTAINS KNOCK (3) has drawn ideally in two, once again minus the reserves, and his trainer-driver Brad Hewitt will be looking to send his star 4yo straight to the front. The multiple G1 winning son of Captaintreacherous attempted to lead throughout in the 4YO Bonanza at Melton last week, with the Goulburn representative recording a brave 2m 3rd to Frankie Ferocious and Perfect Class. Had it not been for Captains Knock wanting to hung in under pressure, Brad was adamant that he would have run second. BETTER BE THE BEST (4) will be looking to put behind him his latest Menangle appearance when he again developed ‘stage fright’ when a 35m 8th to Captains Knock in the G1 NSWBC 3YO C&G’s Final last October. It was the second year in a row, Better Be The Best had started an odds-on favourite to take the crown, only to break each time, losing all chance to justify his ‘red’ figures. Trainer-driver Nathan Turnbull has given his stable star three trials, two at Bathurst which resulted in solid wins while the latest was a sound 7.7m 5th to Hot And Treacherous, Fire Fox, Expensive Ego and Bondi Lockdown finishing ahead of the Bathurst visitor. The trial was pleasing as Better Be The Best kept working to the line in fine fashion. From gate three, Better The Best will show early intent in looking to secure a forward, stalking role. Bound to create plenty of interest is the former Emma Stewart-prepared 4yo OUR VINNIE (2), with the son of Vincent now under the astute care of Jason Grimson and that fact is enough to suggest that the 4yo will be a serious player. Our Vinnie has been off the scene since late November when a 13m 8th to Perfect Class in the Breeders crown 3YO C&G’s Final at Melton. The consistent gelding has drawn ideally in one and with a solid, but comfortable, trial under his belt, Our Vinnie will make things interesting for his, more high-profile opponents. Another Kiwi in SOONER THE BETTOR (9) has drawn out ins even, however, the son of Bettors Delight can’t be taken lightly. Prepared by legendary mentor Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan, the son of Bettors Delight scored at Ashburton five runs ago, and has been placed in his subsequent four starts, his past three. On one occasion he managed to grab second spot ahead of Dont Stop Dreaming, which then managed to turn the tables on Sooner The Bettor, with the pair beaten by Merlin each time. Boasting four wins and 12 placings from his 21 trips to the races, Sooner The Bettor can’t be ignored. Formerly with Geoff Webster and now under the care of Kevin Pizzuto, the talented DOUGS PLATTER (10) has a solid trial outing behind him as he tackles his first assignment since an 8.5m 5th to Perfect Class at Melton last November. The wide gate may limit his claims to a minor exotic player.
DONT STOP DREAMING 1, Captains Knock 2, Better Be The Best 3, Our Vinnie 4.
Following an aborted Inter Dominion campaign after just two rounds, the Michael Stanley trained and driven ROCK N ROLL DOO (8) will be looking to ‘kick-off’ his latest term of racing on a winning note, and judging by his recent sizzling Melton trial, that appears to be a distinct possibility. Spelled after recording a disappointing 49.8m 11th to Speak The truth at AP on December 5, the classy and high-profile son of Rock N Roll Heaven headed back to the drawing board last Monday and was highly impressive winning a trial by 31m. Chasing him home was the champion mare, Ladies In Red. Rock R Roll Doo recorded a final 800m in 54.55, with the last 400m covered in 26.83. It was an emphatic display by the 6yo, who was out to make a statement, that ‘he is back’. The last time Rock N Roll doo paid Menangle visit was last September, with a narrow but outstanding win coming his way in the G1 Len Smith Mile. Although meeting a quality line-up, Rock N Roll Doo is ready to resume on a winning note. BOOTS ELECTRIC (7) was responsible for an impressive return to racing at Headquarters last week. The eighth which appears next to his name isn’t a true indication of the effort. In injury-plagued 7yo was facing the starter for the first time since April/2022, and his first since coming under the care of Joe and Mary Rando, when beaten 6m by Loyalist. Despite his lack of ‘hard race fitness’, the sparingly-raced son of Somebeachsomewhere held his ground gamely down the running and he will strip a lot fitter and with a higher degree of confidence going into this assignment. MACH DA VINCI (10) contested the same above-mentioned race and once again, the Peter Hanson-trained son of Art Major was game in defeat. Working home strongly from his midfield role, the 7yo was unable to fend off the late surge by Loyalist, which had a neck margin to spare when the judge called a halt. The outside gate will await Mach Da Vinci, but he can never be taken lightly in a race of this nature. JAY OK (5) was below his best when recording just one placing in seven outings when last in work. The talented 7yo was safely held in a recent trial but is capable of producing a useful effort, especially after drawing handily. At least give consideration in multiple transactions. BONDI LOCKDOWN (9) will also looking to improve on recent showings after resuming with a determined win over Braedos Lad and Alta Orlando on December 2. The Luke McCarthy trained and driven 6yo has had nearly a month off since finishing a disappointing 13.9m 7th to Mach Da Vinci, with a solid 3.8m 4th to Hot And Treacherous, clearly a far sharper display. Bondi Lockdown has drawn deep, but his best form would be good enough to see him play an important role in the finish.
ROCK N ROLL DOO 1, Boots Electric 2, Mach Da Vinci 3, Jay OK 4.
At least half-a-dozen chances in the trot, and although coming off a disappointing effort, CONSTANTINOPLE (7) is one of them. Following a mixed Inter Dominion campaign, which resulted in an 18.6m 5th to the champion Just Believe in his third and final heat, the 7yo failed to make the final, however, bounced back strongly in winning the Garrards Trotting FFA, when he led throughout, as an odds-on favourite, in defeating Tam OShanter and Zealous Spur. Stepping out at Menangle six weeks later on January 27, the son of Trixton recorded a costly 33m 9th to Majestic Trio after going into a pace and breaking. That was the first time that Constantinople had tasted defeat at Headquarters as his previous five engagements were all successful. VICTREE HILL (5) has now had the benefit of two respectable efforts since a spell, the latter a week ago when the 7yo, which is also a son of Trixton, worked home strongly when beaten a half-head by Scruffy Doolan. Handily drawn and stripping fitter, the Jarrod Alchin-trained gelding will again have plenty to offer. SCRUFFY DOOLAN (6), following his win here last week, has now joined the team at Lucky Lodge. Previously prepared by Queenslander Taleah McMullen, who retains ownership, the 8yo is a consistent performer and he will again make his presence felt. Josh Gallagher, who drove the perfect race last week, will again partner the 8yo son of Majestic Son. Another Lucky Lodge runner in FUNKY MONKEY (10) The talented mare is coming off a solid 1.3m 2nd to Majestic Trio a couple of weeks ago, six weeks after being forced to abort her Inter Dominion dreams after another disappointing effort in round two. Despite the wide gate the daughter of Monkey Bones remains in the mix, now that her level of fitness is heading in the right direction. MAJESTIC TRIO (8) also strips fitter for two runs back, the latter when she showed a welcome return to form in leading through for a 1.3m victory over Funky Monkey and Sunny Gee. The 6yo had been racing below her best prior to that run, and now that her confidence has been restored, a similar bold showing can be expected. TRAVEL BUG (9) joins the Luke McCarthy stable following a creditable 5m 5th to Scruffy Doolan last week. The Victorian will be contesting his 100th start and he can’t be ignored as a potential threat. SUNNY GEE (3) has been consistent of late and is coming of a run of four-consecutive placings so include the third member of the Lucky Lodge team in the multiple mix. AFFAIRE DE COVER (1) is coming off a solid win here on Tuesday, and although the task will be a lot more difficult this time around, the Troy Williams-trained Love You 6yo remains a value exotic chance after drawing the pole position.
CONSTANTINOPLE 1, Victree Hill 2, Scruffy Doolan 3, Funky Monkey 4.
One of the ‘better bets’ awaits punters when FIRE FOX (10) steps out for the first time as a member of the in-form Seaton Grima team. Formerly with Jason Grimson, the son of Sweet Lou has been impressive in two trials, the first resulting in an easy win in 1:51,2, the latter when he was beaten narrowly by Hot And Treacherous, who has recently joined the Grimson stable from Queensland. Fire Fox will be having his first outing since a well-beaten 9th to his former stablemate in Hi Manameisjeff back on November 25. The 7yo has drawn the outside gate, but Seaton will no doubt have Fire Fox chasing the gate hard as the lead role will be first and foremost in his game plan. From that point onwards, it will be case of ‘keep improving you position’. DANGERZONE (3) appears to be the only main threat if there is to be one. Stepping out for his second assignment since a spell, the Luke McCarthy trained and driven son of Gotta Go Cullect posted a 12.6m 5th to Line Up last week, with the 5yo prominently placed from the outset. Back to a more suitable challenge and drawing well in three, Dangerzone will have the opportunity to play a far more active role in the finish. VANQUISH STRIDE (5) has been racing against quality opposition in Victoria, and although placed in just one outing since resuming five runs ago, the Shane Sanderson-trained 6yo is capable of giving a good account. The son of Bettors Delight contested the Wedderburn Cup at Maryborough a couple of weeks ago, with a 16.9m 8th to Earl Of Pembroke recorded by the 6yo. A better draw, compared to the second line last time out, will be a plus for Vanquish Stride. MAJOR JELLIS (4) has been unplaced in both his runs since a spell, the latter a week ago when a 13.5m 6th to Line Up. The Art Major 7yo hasn’t won since last April, but stays in the mix when it comes to exotic transactions. PORT AU PRINCE (8) has been struggling for form and confidence but the 6yo should be linked to the multiples, along with JOE NIEN (6), OLD LUKE (7) and ASHARK (9).
FIRE FOX 1, Dangerzone 2, Vanquish Stride 3, Major Jellis 4.
– FORM ASSESSED BY MIKE KO’CASS