Balraj back and now in powerhouse stable

By Adam Hamilton

This time last year former Kiwi pacer Balraj was the buzz horse of New South Wales and connections knocked-back a reported $500,000 offer.

Since then the four-year-old has raced seven times for three wins and lost much of his gloss.

But he’s back, has changed trainers, and resumes his career with Australia’s most dominant stable of Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy at Menangle on Saturday night.

He’s a watch horse of the highest order.

Balraj raced just five times in NZ for trainer Steve McRae where he unplaced at his first three outings then won two moderate Forbury Park races before being sold to Australia.

He won his first eight Aussie runs for Anthony Simiana, but struggled when he stepped into the bigger league around Chariots Of Fire time earlier this year.

Balraj hasn’t raced since a third placing at Menangle on February 29 when trained by KerryAnn Morris.

“He hasn’t had a trial, but his work at home suggests he’s a pretty serious horse,” McCarthy said. “I think he’ll be very competitive this week, but it’s a big ask first-up into the free-for-all against a horse as good as Alta Orlando.

“We like him, the signs are good, but we’re as interested as anyone to see how he goes under race pressure, especially one as strong as this first-up.”

Balraj is one of Cross and McCarthy’s staggering seven entrants in the 11-horse free-for-all field. He’s drawn eight, while Alta Orlando has the outside alley.

The Aussie TAB has Alta Orlando at $1.22, Balraj at $4 then $19 or better the rest.

Luke McCarthy is aboard Alta Orlando with his brother, Todd, on Balraj.

Cross and McCarthy also have high hopes for another new stable addition, classy former NZ and WA mare Dracarys.

“She’s working well at home. She looks to have found a suitable race first-up even though she’s drawn out wide,” McCarthy said.

In other stable news, McCarthy said Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing had come through last week’s sparkling first-up well.

“He’d had some solid workouts and was ready to go, but that run will really bring him on a lot as well. He’ll definitely be fitter next run,” he said.

That next run has been pushed back a week to Menangle on August 22 as stablemate Cash N Flow will chase his 10th successive Menangle win next Saturday night in the free-for-all.

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