September 24, 2021 National Trotguide
While the ‘new generation’ of rising stars have been enjoying plenty of success in recent months, the established headline act of Belinda and Luke McCarthy are poised to make their presence felt, courtesy of a number of winning prospects. With the wife and husband team still on a ‘high’ following the impressive trial of dual Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing on Wednesday, they will be hoping to start the night on a bright note, courtesy of ILIKEMEBETTOR (4). Resuming from a creditable Queensland campaign, and from a wide draw a week ago, Ilikemebettor posted a pleasing 9m 3rd behind stablemate Ranger Bomb, which was certainly in a hurry to end the race and get back home for a feed. Falling just short of a record-breaking performance, Ranger Bomb hit the ground running, and didn’t stop. Ilikemebettor came from well-back in proceedings but making up the necessary metres was mathematically impossible. Fitter and assisted by an ideal draw, the 4yo son of Bettors Delight will play a far more active role in the finish this time around. Like Ilikemebettor, the Jarrod Alchin-trained MY ULTIMATE STAR (11) was also resuming from a Queensland experience when he recorded a determined 2nd, beaten a head by Ranger Bomb. Also coming from back in the pack, My Ultimate Star was cutting back the margin with every stride, but the winning post arrived just in time for the winner. The run was impressive but unlike Ilikemebettor, My Ultimate Star has drawn the outside gate, and that may be a telling factor. However, if possible, it is a case of backing one and saving on the other. Or stand them out in exotic transactions and play the field. HELD TO RANSOM (8) has been consistent of late and is coming off another handy effort in finishing a 7m 4th to Mighty Looee. While the mare hasn’t won for some time, when it comes to the exotics, the 6yo is worthy of attention. BRACKEN KNIGHT (5) has been mixing his form but goes into the multiples, along with OUR MADIBA (10), ENK SPOT SHANNON (6) and SCHOUTEN ISLAND (2).
ILIKEMEBETTOR 1, My Ultimate Star 2, Held To Ransom 3, Bracken Knight 4.
‘Team McCarthy’ again appear to hold the key to this event with the two main players in MUSCLE FACTORY (3) and BOMB SUIT (2) sharing the same address. Luke’s decision will be a major factor and must be respected. However, MUSCLE FACTORY (3) is entitled to attention as he looks to bounce back from a costly and disappointing effort in the G1 Regional Championship at Headquarters back on May 22. Starting the popular elect, Muscle Factory dictated the terms but tired badly in recording a 32.4m 9th to Eye Can Run. The son of Roll With Joe was allowed to have a comfortable trial outing back on Sept 1, posting an 18.6m 5th to Rusty Crackers, with Jack Callaghan letting Muscle Factory run down the straight under his own steam. A few extra weeks on the training track should have Muscle Factory fresh and ready for action, especially from his good draw. BOMB SUIT (2) has drawn one spot better and he will also strip fitter for two solid efforts since a break. Always prominent from a similar draw last week, the Art Major 4yo recorded a gritty 2m 3rd behind Soho Tsunami and Mighty Looee. Without a win since last November, Bomb Suit is working towards a win and is capable of leaving the track on a winning note. CLOUD NINE (9) has been in fine form in recent months, with the 4yo having his races nicely spaced along the way. Following a hat-trick of trips to the winner’s circle, Cloud Nine led and wasn’t disgraced by a neck 2nd to Ardens Ace three weeks ago. Despite the tricky draw, Cloud Nine has the gate speed to be in the mix from the outset so don’t ignore his claims. SWAGGIE SHANNON (6) greeted the judge five starts ago but has been unplaced in subsequent encounters, although three of those efforts were creditable. The veteran can’t be left out of exotic discussions while TERRYRAMA (4) stays under notice at his first run for Jason Grimson. Cam Hart will take the reins and although the 6yo son of Western Terror will be facing a tougher task, compared to his recent handy form on the country arena, a bold showing here wouldn’t surprise. A fitter RED REACTOR (7) should also be considered when it comes to multiple investments.
MUSCLE FACTORY 1, Bomb Suit 2, Cloud Nine 3, Swaggie Shannon 4.
Dual Miracle Mile winning trainer-driver John McCarthy has been engaged by James Rattray to handle a couple of his runners, due to the fact that the Exeter mentor is still unable to enter the ‘Menangle bubble’. STAR MAJOR (3) is the first of those two runners, the other being the headline act of Rattray’s team, IGNATIUS. Star Major resumed from a lengthy spell in posting an encouraging 5.2m 2nd to his star stablemate at Goulburn on Aug 23, then in a shock result, turned the tables on Ignatius when he led throughout, courtesy of an astute drive by Charlie Castles, at Wagga two weeks ago. Zipping home his final two quarters in 26.6 and 27.3, Star Major hit the line strongly in having a margin of 6m to spare over Ignatius while Send It was 6.6m away in grabbing third. Ideally drawn and stripping fitter for those two assignments, Star Major will take a power of beating. SOHO TSUNAMI (5) bounced back from a couple of unplaced efforts with a determined all-the-way win a week ago, with Mighty Looee and Bomb Suit unable to peg him back. The Jack Trainor trained and driven 4yo has drawn suitably and is likely to make a play for the role as dictator. Whether John McCarthy wants that role or is happy to take a sit, will result in an interesting charge into the first bend. ZAHVEN BANNER (10) scored here four runs ago and has since finished in eighth position in three outings since. But the 7yo stays under notice despite the numbers next to his name and the wide gate. Two of those efforts were in races won by Max Delight and Majestic Cruiser, respectively, and on each occasion the Bettors Delight gelding wasn’t far away. Last week Zahven Banner carried a flat tyre for the majority of the trip, and also raced outside of the leader, when beaten 15m by Boncel Benjamin, yet another G3 event. Zahven Banner returns to a suitable contest and a bold showing is a distinct possibility so don’t ignore his claims in an open race. LEFT TENNANT (4) resumed from a spell last week with a gritty photo 2nd to Escalera. The giant frame of the 8yo son of Art Major will strip fitter and although a consistent performer in recent preparations, it comes as a surprise that Left Tennant hasn’t greeted the judge since July/2019 when covid was not part of our vocabulary. Include Left Tennant in exotic discussions, along with JIMMY LOCKE (6), PETES SAID SO (8) and WARFARE (9). If, the reserve ALWAYS ROCKIN (2) comes off the bench, then include him in exotic investments as the draw is appealing in this company.
STAR MAJOR 1, Soho Tsunami 2, Zahven Banner 3, Left Tennant 4.
Despite drawing the outside marble and confronted by an interesting array of fine talent, CAPTAIN CRUSADER (11) appeals as the one to beat. Prepared by Rickie Alchin, who has been enjoying a great run of success in recent months, and to be driven by Luke McCarthy, the Captaintreacherous colt will be looking to continue his amazing run of being involved in a top three position. From his past his past dozen starts Captain Crusader has collected four wins and eight placings, seven in the role as runner-up. Following his gallant 5m 3rd to Tasty Delight and Act Now in the APG G1 3YO C$G’s Final at Melton back in late May, Captain Crusader has been applying his trade in Queensland where he was placed in three Derby encounters, the latest when beaten 1.6m in finishing 2nd to American Dealer in the G1 Queensland Derby. While this won’t be an easy challenge, it will certainly be more comfortable and that should pave the way for Captain Crusader to salute the judge. On the subject of consistency, the Harry Martin-trained TITIAN RAIDER (10) definitely falls into that category. The 3yo son of Sunshine Beach is also a determined character as his fine record would suggest. From the outset, Harry as always had a big opinion of this fellow and the Miracle Mile winning trainer-driver is not one to hand out that type of praise without good reason. Titian Raider has won his past four, the latest when he produced a big effort in defeating Rocket Boy and Lets Get Rockin at Penrith in what was a strong heat of the NSW Breeders Challenge. Tasty Delight finished fourth, adding further merit to the win. Expect to see Titian Raider in for the fight from start to finish. ROCKET BOY (8) had won his previous three starts since coming from NZ and joining the Jack Trainor team, prior to his bold effort at Penrith and he will again give a good account while the consistent and ideally drawn SHANLOU (3) is entitled to be linked to multiple transactions. WATCHMEDAZZLE (2), MACHS LEGACY (6), THE RACONTEUR (7) and OUR ACTION MAN (9), a stablemate to Captain Crusader, all have suitable form when it comes to the exotics.
CAPTAIN CRUSADER 1, Titian Raider 2, Rocket Boy 3, Shanlou 4.
In what appears to be an open and tough race, mainly due to the lack of consistency, the Paul Fitzpatrick-trained filly SIOUX RAINBOW (6) gains the nod in the Harness Breeders NSW Pink Diamond, as she attempts to record her first win since taking out the G2 Raith Memorial back in January. A further eight trips to the races and the daughter of American Ideal has managed to snare just two minor placings, so Sioux Rainbow does come with reservations. To balance the case for the filly, and a number of her engagements were against strong opposition, the likes of Soho Almasi and Anntonia taking out two of those races. Sioux Rainbow has been off the scene since recording an 8.4m 5th to Marmitta back on May 29, but a handy trial appearance should have her ready for a competitive showing. HIGHLY RESPECTED (4) should be shown respect as the filly steps out for her second challenge since coming under the care of Chris Judd. Kept safe in the market when on debut for Chris a couple of weeks ago, the filly was never a factor when a 19.6m 5th to Polka Delight. That was her first outing in a month and with this challenge being a shade easier, a vastly more competitive showing from Highly Respected in bound to unfold.
James Rattray has HONEY CHICKEN (3) engaged and with a suitable draw and a pleasing return to racing next to her name, the Bettors Delight filly is capable of serving up a bold showing. Placed in just one of her five previous Menangle outings, Honey Chicken resumed with a 7.8m 3rd to Zenxena at Goulburn last week. Fitter and contesting what should be an acceptable challenge, Honey Chicken can’t be taken lightly. The booking of Luke McCarthy for the Steve Turnbull-trained IM DESIRABLE (8) should be noted. The filly strips fitter for two runs back from a spell, the latter on Wednesday at Bathurst when she worked in finishing a useful 9.4m 4th to Winona Writer. The Betterthancheddar 3yo has drawn deep for this harder task, but as the winner of six races, Im Desirable could be exactly. HOLD MY HALO (9) has been mixing her form, with a Bathurst win, then followed by a well-beaten last to Good Cheddar This at Parkes a couple of weeks ago when she ruined her claims by breaking. Amanda Turnbull has booked cousin Will Rixon to take the reins.
SIOUX RAINBOW 1, Highly Respected, Im Desirable 3, Honey Chicken 4.
To the main course and the G3 Sutton McMillan will provide plenty of action from the moment starter Todd Clarke activates the green light for the 2300m challenge, right up until the judge calls a halt to proceedings. Despite being first-up over the longer trip and facing a couple of in-form and fitter rivals in IGNATIUS (8) and MAJESTIC CRUISER (5), the Belinda McCarthy-trained SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (2) is worth the gamble. Since joining the State’s leading stable, the former Kiwi has contested six races, with four wins coming his way. Prior to scoring in fine fashion when first-up for the team at Goulburn back on June 4, Luke was talking about this son of Sweet Lou in glowing terms. Spirit Of St Louis headed to Queensland for the winter carnival and wasted no time in recording back-to-back wins at Albion Park. The 4yo then drew the back row when a solid 5.2m 6th to Amazing Dream in the G1 Rising Sun, then sat without cover in taking out the 4YO Championship (3). The form guide will show Spirit Of St Louis finishing a 19.9m 11th to the wonderful mare Amazing Dream in the 2680m G1 Blacks A Fake. But, forget the run, as he struck trouble and also carried a flat tyre. Spirit Of St Louis hasn’t trialled but the fact that Belinda has handed him a 2300m challenge, would suggest he is ready to make his presence felt. The horse to beat is IGNATIUS (8), with John McCarthy set to match wits with his son. Ignatius is hard in condition and is coming off a strong all-the-way win at Goulburn on Monday when he easily accounted for Send It and Smooth Sailor. A wide gate awaits the 6yo son of Roll With Joe, however, that won’t be a major concern as John will push the ‘go’ button from the outset as he looks to dictate the terms. That should leave Spirit Of St Louis securing the role on his back. Since joining the Jason Grimson stable the former Victorian, MAJESTIC CRUISER (5) has enjoyed plenty of success, with four of his past five starts resulting in a visit to the winner’s circle. The 6yo son of art Major completed the hat-trick with a solid display in defeating Pocket Of Terror and Hidden Courage in the G3 Kevin Newman a couple of weeks ago, and with three of his four wins being in 2300m events, Majestic Cruiser will again fancy his chances. Apart from Spirit Of St Louis, the McCarthys will also have STAR GALLERIA (6) resuming while ALTA ORLANDO (9) is coming off a slightly disappointing 7.2m 3rd to Boncel Benjamin a week ago. The pair should be included in exotic discussions while BONCEL BENJAMIN (10) is also entitled to be regarded as a contender for a minor role.
SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS 1, Ignatius 2, Majestic Cruiser 3, Star Galleria 4.
Sticking with the Belinda McCarthy stable and THE CROUPIER (3) is capable of dealing punters a winning hand following a tidy performance at Headquarters a week ago. Back from a mixed campaign north of the border, the 6yo son hit the line nicely from a deep peg role in finishing a 4.4m 6th to Soho Tsunami. Fitter for his first run in five weeks and drawing ideally, The Croupier will have the chance to secure a run, either behind the leader and three pegs, the latter maybe the best as the tempo of the race will be determined by the speedster, Don Boston. As per usual, when the ‘Don’ rolls along, a kind peg role in usually the preferred option as it is difficult to come from a rearward role when the field settles into an ‘Indian file’ pattern. ROCKY CREED (4) has been unplaced in his past four starts at this venue, the past three when in the market, the latter a week ago when he started in the ‘red’ in finishing a fading 7.6m 5th to Our Madiba. The son of Pet Rock led on that occasion and he may be better suited to ‘stalking’ the tempo and that will certainly be the case here. QUEENOFDANCE (6) has been thereabouts in most of her recent outings so include the mare in multiple transactions while BENALONG VALLEY (8) is capable of being in the mix following a couple of improved efforts in recent weeks. ELMS CREEK (1), a fitter EVERYBODYLOVEDRAY (2) and KATCHAR SHOOBEE (7) look to be value players.
THE CROUPIER 1, Rocky Creed 2, Queenofdance 3, Benalong Valley 4.
It is hard to fault the form of the Cameron Ross-conditioned mare UROC SKINNY JEANS (7), with the daughter of Mach Three looking to make it back-to-back wins at Headquarters. Following a brave 2.5m 2nd to the smart mare Rocknroll Angel in a G3 assignment, Uroc Skinny Jeans hit the line strongly in defeating Major Bob and Alpine Stride, courtesy of another outstanding drive by Jack Callaghan. With only seven runners, Uroc Skinny Jeans should be close to the action from the outset and it will take a big effort to prevent the mare from being first across the line. FAIRY TINKABELL (6) is certainly capable of achieving such a result as the mare is also a last start winner a week ago. And it was Jack Callaghan who provided the daughter of Big Jim with the prized one-one sit, as he did with Uroc Skinny Jeans, en route to accounting for Heavenly Belle and Divine Diva in what was a similar assignment to this challenge. Fairy Tinkabell is another top chance on the card for ‘Team McCarthy’ and she will certainly ensure that Uroc Skinny Jeans will need to be at her best if success is to come her way. B K SWY (3) was always well back in the pack, prior to working home soundly for a 9.8m 4th to Fairy Tinkabell last week, as the short-priced elect. That was her first run for Jack Trainor and with a far better number next to her name, the Big Jim mare is likely to settle closer to the action and that will make her a real threat. DIVINE DIVA (1) is an honest mare and gate one is a big plus so respect her exotic prospects as she faces the starter for the first time since coming under the care of Peter Russo. NEVER BEEN SAID (8) and BRONSKI BELLE (2) are also capable of making a play for a minor exotic role.
UROC SKINNY JEANS 1, Fairy Tinkabell 2, B K Swy 3, Divine Diva 4.