All weather test for grass specialist
By Jonny Turner
Grass track star Di Caprio will attempt to make an impact on grit when he clashes with a quality field in the feature pace at Addington on Friday night.
With his horse fit and ready and no grass track racing in sight, trainer Brian O’Meara will step the 6yr-old out on his less preferred surface in the 2600m handicap.
Though the Shadow Play pacer is clearly brilliant on grass and has produced all of his six wins on turf, it does not necessarily mean can not produce his best on all-weather.
So far, O’Meara has simply stuck to what has been working with Di Caprio.
“When he was a 3yr-old, I think it was his second win on grass and Jimmy Curtin drove him – I timed him to run a 55sec last half,” the trainer said.
“Not many horses can do that on grass, so that is really the reason I kept to the grass with him.”
Di Caprio’s last start on grass was one of his best, zooming home out of the pack to win the Waimate Cup fresh up from a spell.
Lockdown sent the entire back to the sidelines and with grass track racing not scheduled to return to Canterbury until next month the pacer has found himself returning on the Addington all-weather.
O’Meara is not expecting it to be a problem and is hoping for another big first up performance from his horse.
“It will be a test for him, of course.”
“But, he has been going nicely at the trials and I am really happy with him.”
“He will go pretty good.”
Di Caprio was third behind Minstrel at Rangiora and beat home race rival Nandolo at last week’s Rangiora trials.
O’Meara thinks the horse will strip much fitter than he appeared in the 2600m heat.
“He went to a workout a couple of weeks ago where I think he went a bit better than some of the ones he will be racing.”
“Then I eased up on him and he put a bit of weight on, but he has done a bit of work since his next trial.”
Di Caprio is one of two fresh runners, alongside Vintage Cheddar that clash with more race hardened opposition in Nandolo, Classie Brigade, Henry Hubert, Franco Niven and others.
Vintage Cheddar has an excellent record at Addington, but being first up in such a strong line up may not help the Alister Black trained 6yr-old at another win to it.
“Alister is pretty happy with him, he has had two trials and he ran home in 55sec [last 800m] in his last trial,” driver Brad Williamson said.
“It is his first up run and it is a pretty smart field, so we will be looking for some improvement from him and hopefully he hits the line well.”
Williamson and his open class star Majestic Man will attempt to turn the tables on Enhance Your Calm and Mark Purdon in Friday night’s feature trot.
Giving his main rival a 10m headstart proved a big factor when Majestic Man could not reel in Enhance Your Calm in their last meeting over 2600m at the end of last month.
Reverting to mobile racing over 1980m sets up a totally different kind of clash.
“Back to the mobile and sprint racing are Majestic Man’s forte,” Williamson said.
“It won’t be easy, Enhance Your Calm is definitely the horse to beat, but I think we can turn the tables on him.”
Majestic Man beat a lesser field two starts ago, but jogged home effortlessly to win in a 1-58.2 mile rate.
Trainer Phil Williamson has given the horse a similar build up in to Friday night’s race.
“He had a quiet trial on Tuesday, like he did before he won last time.”
“He has come through it well and he is fit and well and he should be pretty cherry ripe on Friday night.”
Majestic Man and Enhance Your Calm clash with Ruthless Kayla, Splash Cola, Heavyweight Hero and Pres The Bell in what is set to be an exciting contest.