By Adam Hamilton
The Kiwis launch their Sydney assault from Saturday night.
High-class pacers B D Joe, Alta Wiseguy and Republican Party all step-out at Menangle on Saturday night.
It’s an important race for Republican Party in the Group 3 Hondo Grattan, a qualifier for the Group 1 Chariots Of Fire on February 18.
“He arrived across last weekend and has settled into Menangle well,” co-trainer Chrissie Dalgety said.
“He’s ready to go and the plan is for Carter (Dalgety) to drive him this week with Blair (Orange) down in Melbourne for the Hunter Cup.”
Importantly, Republican Party is drawn to use his early gate speed from barrier five. He’ll come into four if emergency Blazing Banner (four) doesn’t get a run.
As you would expect, it’s a strong race and will give a good guide to where Republican Party sits with this Aussie crop.
Republican Party’s major rivals include first-up winner Mahomes (gate one), Jason Grimson’s Lightning Dan (two), Queenslander Tims A Trooper (nine), the classy Ripp (10), Victorian raider Hes Charlies Angel (10) and talented local My Ultimate Ronnie (12).
On the same night, prepost Chariots Of Fire favourite Captain Ravishing will return from a break as a hot favourite in the $100,000 4YO Bonanza. Only victory will get him a guaranteed Chariots berth.
The second and last of the Chariots qualifiers, the Paleface Adios, will be run at Menangle on Saturday week.
Earlier in the night at Menangle, the Telfer-Cullen trained pair of B D Joe and Alta Wiseguy open their Sydney campaigns in a 1609m free-for-all.
B D Joe has drawn better in gate four with Alta Wiseguy (nine).
The classy pair get their chance in what is not a strong free-for-all.
Former classy Kiwi pacer Mach Shard will be a major player from the pole, while other favoured starters will be Whereyabinboppin (two), Bundoran (six) and Cash N Flow (11).
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By Adam Hamilton
There was a sigh of relief when Josh Dickie saw the final field for the Hunter Cup at Melton this Saturday night.
Dickie’s charge Old Town Road made the cut, but probably only just.
The inclusion of Expensive Ego, Rock N Roll Doo and Hurricane Harley into the final 12 caused quite some angst among those on the fringe and ultimately forced out pacers like former Kiwi Cranbourne (first emergency), the unlucky Petes Said So and outstanding four-year-old Catch A Wave.
Team McCarthy changed heart late last week and decided to send Expensive Ego south rather than stick to an original plan of staying home to focus on the Miracle Mile.
Rock N Roll Doo’s connections surprised a little by accepting with him after his tendency to badly over race had hurt him in recent runs, including the Ballarat Cup last start.
They had also touted a possible switch to a Miracle Mile focus.
Then came last Saturday night’s return to winning form by the fast and classy pacer Hurricane Harley when he easily won the Group 3 Casey Classic at Melton.
That trio all made the final 12.
Pre-draw $3.30 favourite and Kiwi star Copy That joins Old Town Road to give the race two NZ-trained runners.
“It’s a relief. We never really thought he could miss a run, but things did change over the past few days with Expensive Ego, Rock N Roll Doo and Hurricane Harley coming back into the picture,” Dickie said.
“Now we hope for a good draw because the horse has really come on since Ballarat when he hit the line well and we knew he’d take a lot from the run.”
Hurricane Harley’s inclusion gives the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin three runners. The others are Inter Dominion finalists Honolua Bay and Mach Dan.
Team McCarthy has two runners, both proven Grand Circuit stars, in Expensive Ego and Spirit Of St Louis.
Despite not nominating his one-time stable star Majestic Cruiser, trainer Jason Grimson still has two runners with his Inter Dominion final winner I Cast No Shadow and exciting recent stable addition Major Meister.
Hurricane Harley, Inter Dominion runner-up Torrid Saint and Ballarat Cup third place getter Triple Eight were those talked about as most fortunate to make the final field.
Hurricane Harley’s win was terrific last Saturday night, but he didn’t beat a hot field and his previous form had only been fair during a Western Australian stint.
Torrid Saint ran a slashing race in the Inter Dominion final, but his form has been well below that since, including a battling effort behind Hurricane Harley last Saturday night.
Triple Eight’s form wasn’t good enough to be any hope of making the field until he improved sharply for a terrific third at Ballarat.
Robbie Morris, co-trainer of Inter Dominion finalist and the much-improved Petes Said So, was gutted.
“I don’t know what more he could’ve done. His form through the Inter Dominion from bad draws was great and he beat Expensive Ego on his merits last start. It doesn’t seem fair,” he said.
As good as Cranbourne was winning the Shepparton Cup on debut for trainer David Aiken, he didn’t back up and was disappointing at Ballarat, which pushed him back to be an emergency for the Hunter Cup.
Andy Gath’s wish to run buzz four-year-old Catch A Wave sparked plenty of debate, but in the end the selectors went with genuine open-class form as its barometer.
It’s a shame in some ways because he would’ve added some real X-factor to the race with a good draw.
The final pre-draw field is: Copy That, Expensive Ego, Honolua Bay, Hurricane Harley, I Cast No Shadow, Mach Dan, Major Meister, Old Town Road, Rock N Roll Doo, Spirit Of St Louis, Torrid Saint, Triple Eight, Cranbourne (emergency).
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After two near-misses, Kozzi Asano is delighted to have broken through for his first victory at racing’s highest level.
Asano guided He’s A Doozy to a fighting victory in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday, taking control at the top of the straight and holding off a renewed challenge from outstanding three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart.
The former champion apprentice had won 11 black-type races prior to the Thorndon Mile but a Group One victory was proving elusive.
He guided Babylon Berlin to her career-best results in January, finishing a head behind Imperatriz in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Te Rapa on New Year’s Day and then a long neck behind Levante in the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 14, before He’s A Doozy ended his wait.
“Babylon Berlin ran very well in those races but couldn’t quite win,” Asano said.
“So winning this race was a very special moment. I’m over the moon.”
Asano has formed a great partnership with He’s A Doozy this season. He rode the Lisa Latta-trained five-year-old for the first time in the Gr.3 Gee & Hickton Funeral Directors Thompson Handicap (1600m) on October 23, producing a patient ride to burst through a gap 200m out and score from Markus Aurelius.
“I got the ride because his previous rider was suspended that day, so I ended up on him at Wellington, so I was very lucky to get the chance,” Asano said.
“But Lisa Latta has been a great supporter of mine. Andrew Carston, who I was apprenticed to, used to work for Lisa and they are good friends, which is how I got to start riding for her. I’m very grateful for her support.”
Following the Thompson, Asano and He’s A Doozy won the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton on November 9 before finishing a slightly disappointing sixth in an open handicap on a soft track at Trentham on January 7 – a run that meant Asano wasn’t full of confidence heading to the Thorndon.
“He didn’t handle the track that day and when it was wet again for the Thorndon I wasn’t confident. I had a few rides before that race on horses that didn’t handle it so I knew it was tough,” he said.
“But he had a big weight (62kg) in that earlier run and he got through the ground well in the Thorndon.”
Originally from Kawasaki, near Tokyo, in Japan, Asano came to New Zealand seeking opportunities to ride and he’s made the most of them. He was champion apprentice and second on the overall jockeys premiership in 2019-20, and then finished second in the champion apprentice race in the next two seasons.
The 2022-23 season is his first as a fully-fledged jockey but it hasn’t slowed him up. He’s equal seventh on the premiership with 31 wins, and only Opie Bosson, Michael McNab, Craig Grylls, and Warren Kennedy have exceeded his total of five black type victories for the season.
“It hasn’t been a problem really,” Asano said when asked if there had been any difficulties moving out of his apprenticeship. “I’ve just kept working hard and I’ve been riding winners, so I’ve been getting rides. It’s going well at the moment.”
Asano and He’s A Doozy may seek a second top-level victory in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m), to be run at Te Rapa on February 11, where his opponents are set to once again include Sharp ‘N’ Smart, along with Defibrillate, Wild Night, and Prise De Fer.
It would be his third attempt past 1600m – the first two produced an unplaced effort on heavy ground in the Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2000m) as an immature three-year-old in 2021 and a second-place finish in a 2100m open handicap at Te Rapa last April.
“He’s running his races out well and I’m not worried too much about the distance if he races there,” Asano said.
Asano was back at work today at the trials on the Cambridge Synthetic track, riding among others the useful filly Sakura Girl to victory in an open 1300m catchweight.
He’s also got five rides confirmed at Te Rapa, which has been switched from Wednesday to Friday, including Barfoot & Thompson Gingernuts Salver (2100m) fourth-place finisher Loosespender in the Gr.2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (2000m).
“It’s a stronger field, but hopefully he can get a nice handy position in the field. He tries really hard and handles left-handed tracks, so fingers crossed.”
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Andrew Forsman is set to open a satellite stable in Melbourne this year and bloodstock agents Andrew Williams and Bevan Smith are keen to fill it with top fillies.
Forsman has secured 10 boxes at Macedon Lodge and the Cambridge trainer has been busy at Karaka this week purchasing potential residents of the facility.
He teamed up with Williams and Smith to purchase the top-priced filly on the opening day of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Book 1 sale and on Tuesday the trio dug deep once more to secure another filly destined for Forsman’s trans-Tasman operation.
They identified lot 488, the Written Tycoon filly out of Group Three performer Save The Date, as one of the fillies of the sale and they were relieved to secure her out of Cambridge Stud’s draft with a final bid of $460,000.
“She is a filly we have been waiting for, we had to wait until day three, which was a little agonising in itself,” Williams said.
“We are very happy to get her. We went over budget by $10,000 in order to get her, but hopefully that is a good decision in the long-term.
“We are excited to get her and she is going to get every chance with Andrew Forsman and hopefully we see her in the Melbourne spring as a three-year-old filly.
“We need to buy quality in order to compete in Melbourne. We have got to take fillies like this and put them through Andrew’s system and let’s hope they are good enough to be running in Melbourne in the spring.”
While Williams is dreaming of Melbourne targets with the filly, he is hoping to snare more immediate riches in New Zealand in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) next year.
“She is a horse that we have looked at multiple times throughout the week and singled out her and the Savabeel filly on day one.
“We bought Ethereal Star at this sale last year with Andrew Forsman and she is a stakes winner and runner-up in the Karaka Million (1200m) a fortnight ago, so let’s hope we can have similar success with this filly.
“We will point her in that direction (Karaka Million) and see if we can get her there. You need to have a lot of luck to get a runner pre-Christmas, everything needs to go right.
“We thought she was forward enough physically, her demeanor and everything about her was faultless.”
Williams has been active at Karaka this week and has been pleased with the seven yearlings he has bought to date.
“I think a filly like this exemplifies the sale,” he said.
“I think the cream of the crop are really rising and everyone is on them.
“I think it is also strong in that $150,000 to $200,000 bracket, which is a credit to the buying bench and what New Zealand Bloodstock has done to get those people here. Whether they be from Australia or further afield, as well as the domestic buyers.”
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Brisbane has proven to be a happy hunting ground for David Burnett over the last decade and the Little River trainer is hoping that trend continues in Thursday night’s Group 1 Gold Bullion Final (520m) at Albion Park.
Burnett has homebred sprinter Boo Boo Billy (box 4) engaged in the $250,000 to-the-winner Gold Bullion – race 8 at 10.01pm – where the $7 chance is following a ‘golden’ trail blazed by several illustrious predecessors.
Burnett won the G1 Brisbane Cup in 2013 with Kiss Me Ketut, while his champion Simon Told Helen, the 2019/20 Australian Greyhound of the Year, was victorious in the G2 Queensland Derby in 2019 and a finalist in the 2020 Brisbane Cup.
Snags McKenzie was a finalist in the inaugural Gold Bullion in 2020, running sixth to Victorian-trained winner Sennachie.
“Does he compare to Simon Told Helen?” Burnett quipped, when asked how Boo Boo Billy stacks up against his previous Queensland raiders.
“Kiss Me Ketut won the Brisbane Cup and then ran third the following year.
“They’ve done it and this dog’s only win in the city was a maiden!”
Boo Boo Billy, a May ’20 son of Barcia Bale and Thanks Cheryl, has won seven of his 23 starts.
He qualified for the rich Gold Bullion decider when running second to the quickest of last Thursday’s five heat winners, Hara’s Herbie, in 29.64sec, beaten 1.5 lengths on debut at Albion Park.
“For his first look, he went super,” said Burnett.
WATCH: BOO BOO BILLY (B3) qualified for Thursday night’s G1 Gold Bullion Final (520m) after running second to fastest heat winner HARA’S HERBIE (B2) in 29.64sec at his Albion Park debut.
“Boo Boo Billy ran 29.75sec and Simon Told Helen ran 29.83sec at his first start at Albion Park. So he’s gone more than a length quicker than Simon Told Helen.
“We were going to fly up the previous Sunday for a trial, but the flights didn’t work out, so for him to do what he did and still run that time was pleasing.
“Inexperience definitely cost him something, so hopefully he can find a couple of lengths.
“If he boxes like he did last week, he’s in the race. But he’s got to contend with seven local dogs that have been around Albion Park many more times than he has. And they’re good dogs too.”
The Gold Bullion is Boo Boo Billy’s second interstate assignment, after running sixth in a G1 Hobart Thousand heat last month, where litter brother and kennelmate Jebediah qualified for the final after upsetting WA star Vice Grip.
“I always try to sneak up to Queensland,” Burnett said.
“Boo Boo Billy was coming off a 25.49sec win at Geelong. Brisbane contacted me about the race, and I thought I can race for $7000 in Melbourne or go up there for a chance at $250,000!
“It was surprising there were no other dogs from Victoria in the heats.
“Three years ago, when Simon Told Helen made the Brisbane Cup Final, it was worth $50,000 and he was racing against dogs like Black Opium and Hooked On Scotch.”
Boo Boo Billy’s dam, Thanks Cheryl, is a litter sister to Burnett’s 2016 Queensland Derby runner-up My Silver Chisel, with the Gold Bullion contender named after the owner/trainer’s nephew William McDonald.
“I bred and own the dog, which is a bonus,” Burnett said.
“He had four months off when he broke a fibula. It didn’t mend, so he needed an operation to fix it.
“He came back and ran 25.05sec at Warrnambool and 27.14sec at Horsham. Then he went into the Melbourne Cup probably a week or two too soon.
“I took him down to Hobart and he didn’t handle the trip away or the track, but he handled the flight up to Brisbane extremely well, so we’ll stick to the same routine this week and fly up again on Wednesday.”
Thursday night’s Albion Park meeting also features the G3 Gold Cup (710m) – race 6 at 8.58pm – with Jeff Britton qualifying two finalists in G1 winner Mepunga Ruby and G1 placegetter Korda.
Mepunga Ruby was at her brilliant best in a dominant 41.95sec heat victory at her first appearance in Brisbane, the quicker of the two run-offs, with Korda finishing a close third in the second heat.
Mepunga Ruby (box 3) is $2.50 favourite, with Korda (box 4) an $11 chance.
BOO BOO BILLY with namesake William McDonald, trainer David Burnett’s nephew.
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