Fleming heads to Cambridge full of confidence
By Garrick Knight
Phil Fleming has been enjoying the best season of his 10-year training career and expects that to continue at Cambridge on Saturday.
The Stratford horseman will be up bright and early and on the road with a trio of good chances, headed by promising mare, Sheikh Yabooty.
By the time she scores up in the 1700-metre sprint, she’ll be seven days removed from running back-to-back seconds, 18 hours apart, on the same track.
“Those two runs last week were both really good runs and she showed she can do it both ways,” said Fleming.
On Friday night she was driving cold and got no luck in behind Underthesouthernsun then on the Saturday she sat three-wide and then parked outside eventual winner, Eagle Watch.
She’ll add a third strong to her bow this week when showing gate speed to lead, Fleming reckons.
“It’s only a sprint trip, so we’ve probably got to lead, I think.”
With three wins under her belt, Sheikh Yabooty gets in at a luxury rating of 49 and that will delay her inevitable sale off shore.
“She’s well-rated so I’d probably like to win another couple with her before putting her on the market.”
Stable veteran Our Wicklow recorded his 10th career win last Saturday at start 131 after finding the front at the mile.
He doesn’t win them out of turn, and is drawn on the unruly again this week, but Fleming is pretty confident the horse will go close to recording back-to-back wins.
“He’s definitely more than a runners’ chance; he always goes his best races at Cambridge and I think he’s actually a pretty good show.
“If the pace is on, that will suit.”
Fleming is right in that Our Wicklow does have three wins and three placings from just 12 starts at Cambridge, plus it is not a strong field at all.
Rounding out the team is trotting mare Caitlin’s Surprise, who tackles one of the day’s features, the $10,000 Harcourts Te Awamutu 2020 Waipa Trotters Cup.
Like her stablemates she raced both days last week, running fifth both times.
She’s perhaps not in career-best form but Fleming has a hunch she’s about to find her footing again.
“I’ve had some tying up issues with her so I’ve had to back off the oats, basically.
“That and she’s such a good doer, I’ve been trying to keep her weight down.
“But she generally hits her best form around February onwards and I think that will be the case again this year.
“There are some nice mares’ races coming up for her and I’ll be looking towards those.”
Caitlin’s Surprise will face some stiff opposition from the in-form Anna Kate and last Saturday’s winners, Lovely Bundy.
The pacers face off in the Brown & Pennell 2020 Waipa Pacers Cup and the John and Josh Dickie-trained mare Callie’s Delight will likely start favourite.
Parker has been going excellent races without much recently while the Chris Webber-trained pair of Bugalugs and Fleeting Grin are drawn to do no work on the markers over the 2700-metre trip and are must-includes in multiples.