Not often we are treated to a Group race during the week but that’s the case at his Wednesday’s Newcastle meeting where the feature race on the program is the Newmarket Handicap. Darley won this race last year with Bello and the have three chances in the field of fifteen to make it back-to-back victories with Pinwheel, Cameo, Wistful and Reparations. Leading trainers Gai Waterhouse and Peter Moody both have multiple runners with Waterhouse’s pair – Rain Drum and Almighty Charge, both drawing wide. Moody’s runners, Strawberry Boy and High Esteem have drawn much more favourably but both are coming off disappointing first up efforts.
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1. PINWHEEL – (7) 59kgs
The son of Lonhro has produced three solid efforts since resuming from a spell early last month including a fourth to Appearance (2 ¾ lengths) in the G2 Expressway (1200m), followed by a third (1.2 lengths) in the G1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) behind Moment Of Change and Sertorius. His most recent run was a typically honest fourth (2.1 lengths) to Terravista in the G3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Warwick Farm. Hasn’t won since taking out defeating Secret Admirer in the G2 Warwick Stakes in 2012 over this trip, but is in solid from and generally puts himself in the right spot. Cannot be dismissed.
2. SLOW PACE – J Bowman (6) 57kgs
Former French galloper purchased by Australian Bloodstock who will be making his Australian debut for local trainer Kris Lees. Lees has had instant success with imported horses for these owners in the past and whilst the 6yo son of Distorted Humour has never raced below a mile, he has had two barrier trials and plenty of time in Australian in preparation for this race, which is a smart one to be kicking off in. Creates plenty of interest and any support in betting should be noted.
3. RAIN DRUM – B Shinn (15) 56kgs
One of two runners in the race for Gai Waterhouse, Rain Drum resumed with a pleasing sixth of eight behind Appearance in the G2 Apollo Stakes. Caught in the middle of a bunched field on the turn, the Fastnet Rock 6yo went to the line with Boban and finished only 2.2 lengths from the winner. He’ll strip much fitter and enjoy a 3kgs drop in weight. Put together a very good spring preparation that included close up finishes behind the likes of Toydini, Speediness and Mouro and despite the gate, has to be rated one of the better chance.
4. STRAWBERRY BOY – J Cassidy (2) 55kgs
He resumed two and a half weeks ago for Trainer Peter Moody as the 5/2 favourite in the G3 Tab Rewards Stakes. As always, he was leading the field and looked comfortable as they swung for home at Flemington however, the 5yo by Redoute’s Choice was quickly under pressure and finished a disappointing seventh of ten (4.7 lengths) behind Mouro. Drawn well to take up his favourite position and on his best form, would be right in the calculations but hard to take with any confidence after his first up run.
5. CENTENNIAL PARK – (1) 54.5kgs
The 8yo has only won one of his last thirty three starts but during that time, has popped up to run a cheeky race in some quality events. He ran a good third last start in the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra a week and a half ago where from the tail of the field; he made up plenty of ground to finish two lengths behind Messene and Respirations. That was his third run in this prep and his first two efforts, in the Listed Canterbury Classic and G3 Southern Cross, where fear although despite failing to place. Should get a good run from one but his strike rate makes it almost impossible to have him.
6. MALUCKYDAY – J. Ford (3) 54.5kgs
Stayer resuming here and you would think his target race is a few weeks away during the The Championships at Randwick. That said, the 7yo did run a cheeky race over 1400m first up last prep when sixth (1.5 lengths) to Strike The Stars carrying 59.5kgs. Won’t know himself with only 54.5kgs to carry here but only won once over this distance and that was many moons ago now, he’ll find a few too slick over this trip.
7. REPARATIONS – S Clipperton (9) 54kgs.
The gelding by Exceed And Excel has had five runs since Boxing Day last year and is getting better with each outing. Third in the Kilmore Cup behind Sweet As Bro and in-form Sistine Demon was followed by an unlucky second to Messene in the Listed National Sprint at Canberra last Sunday week. The sparingly raced five year old flashed home to miss by a head but the conditions of this race – a big straight, solid tempo and 1400m, all should suit. Going well and would be considered one of the leading contenders.
8. HIGH ESTEEM – (8) 54kgs
He ran second to Toydini in the Cameron Handicap (1500m) last year and returns after having his first run in twenty-two weeks at Flemington in the G3 Tab Rewards Stakes eighteen days ago. The well bred stallion by Redoute’s Choice took up a handy position in the run but was nothing by disappointing in the straight, dropping out to run last, over eight lengths from the winner Mouro. Normally takes a run or two when returning to racing and is a better horse than his last outing would suggest but requires too much of a form reversal to include him here.
9. CAMEO – (10) 54kgs
A 4yo mare who resumed as an unwanted 150/1 chance and in the G3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) just over a week ago and never made an impression from the tail of the field, running tenth and 6.6 lengths behind winner Terravista. She ran a neck third second up last prep here at Newcastle as a 30/1 shot in the Listed Tibbie Stakes behind Vaquera and Gold Epona but it is asking too much of her to repeat that performance in a much stronger affair here.
10. WISTFUL – (4) 54kgs
A Tiger Hill mare who progressed through her grades in good style last preparation, going from a Hawkesbury maiden to third placing in the G3 Summoned Stakes behind Floria in the space of seven starts. She returned to racing from that campaign in the G3 Wiggle Stakes last Saturday week and whilst not too much was expected from her first up over 1400m, she didn’t show anything in the run home, finishing last and almost a dozen lengths from Catkins. Hard to make a case for her here off of that run.
11. ALMIGHTY CHARGE – T Clark (14) 54kgs
The second of Gai’s runners and like stable-mate Rain Drum, he too has drawn poorly in 14. The Charge Forward gelding has recorded two wins and a narrow second in his past three outings, each tenacious efforts leading from the front. The most recent start saw him make stable-mate Ecuador work hard for a win in a BM 95 (1400m). Deserves is shot at this grade and will give his all but his task is made harder from the draw.
12. KAYPERS – C Reith (5) 54kgs
The Cape Cross 6yo’s last win came in August 2012, nineteen starts ago now. During that time he has ran several placing including in a Scone Cup behind Speediness and Mouro and his two most recent outings. Off a six week let-up and chased honestly to run second (3/4 length) to Ecuador in a BM 95 (1400m) before running third to the same horse, same ground, same distance, a little over two weeks ago. Drawn well, will get his chance and is fit. Likely to be double figures and one for the multiples.
13. MECIR – J McDonald (12) 54kgs
The Team Hawkes representative had a dream run when winning a BM 95 (1400m) three starts back over Skip Town and Babel in the first week of the New Year before finishing fourth to Red Excitement twice in Open company.
The latest of those runs was seven weeks ago and the son of Lonhro does go well fresh. Whilst this is a new level for him again, he will have been set for this race and could be steaming home at the end at a decent price.
14. DOUBLE HALO – (13) 54kgs
He rounded his last campaign by contesting the Moree and Dubbo Cups, finishing sixth and fifth respectively. The 6yo then returned to racing off a twenty-three week break but running third at Quirindi and then fourth of thirteen at Muswellbrook. Faces a big challenge her off of those efforts.
15. DESERT WIZARD – SCRATCHED
Trained by Nigel Blackiston, this 4yo by Golan won his first three starts before contesting the G3 Dato’tan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last spring. He had his chance in the run but given his brief history and the fact that he finished within 2.6 lengths of Fiorente at WFA conditions, the run was full of merit. After failing at his next start over 1700m, he was spelled and returns to racing here with no public trials to go on. Does have his fair share of ability though and the stable is enjoying a good run at the moment – as is the jockey. Will have his supporters.
This is a tough race with several form-lines to take into consideration, making for a competitive market. Pace should be good courtesy of Waterhouse’s pair – Almighty Charge and Rain Drum who are both drawn wide, pushing forward and Strawberry Boy holding his spot closer to the fence. Liked the effort of Rain Drum first up and his performance last spring stand him in very good stead for a race such as this. Reparations seems to be hitting peak form at just the right time and the conditions of this race suit. Pinwheel just doesn’t run a bad race, even in the twilight of his career and will no doubt give a good account of himself. Couple to look for at value toward the bottom include Mecir, who could be finishing hard late first up and Desert’s Wizard, a smart horse who has been nominated for several of the big feature races this autumn.
- RAIN DRUM