Gray starts strong team
By Jonny Turner
Trainer Brett Gray hopes Friday is the day Cassius Bromac can finally lose his status as one of the country’s best maiden pacers.
The 3yr-old looks the strongest of chances and would be the most deserving of winners in race 4 at Ascot Park.
Cassius Bromac may have broken through for his first win in his last start had he not been badly held up in traffic before flashing home to run second to Undercover Mac at Wyndham.
That result was the He’s Watching pacer’s second consecutive second placing after the horse produced a strong runner-up effort in his first start as a 3yr-old.
Though Gray thinks his pacer looks the horse to beat, he is weary that does not automatically translate in to his horse just turning up and winning.
“Dare I say it - he shouldn’t get beat [on Friday] - but in this game you never know,” the trainer said.
“He was a certainty beaten last time, things could not have gone much worse for him.”
“But, he did fly when he got out.”
Gray has one major concern going in to Friday’s maiden 2200m event.
That Cassius Bromac will be racing just five days after his last start second.
“The only thing that worries me is the five day back up, that is really not my style.”
“But, there are no races down here for the next couple of weeks, so we are giving it a go.”
Nota Bene Denario is also among the five strong team Gray takes to Ascot Park on Friday.
The 5yr-old drops in grade from racing in the South Of The Waitaki event at the New Zealand Cup Carnival to face an even line up in race 9.
The pacer looks to have drawn a tricky starting spot in number nine.
However, Gray said that barrier one on the second row of the mobile is the perfect starting position for the horse.
“He is a horse that just can’t do any work early, so that is sort of the ideal draw for him, really.”
“He has got a lot of speed to pick them up.”
Nota Bene Denario ran fifth behind Spirit Of St Louis on Show Day at Addington.
Gray has worked on a steering issue after that run, which combined with some fitness improvement, should mean the pacer will be an even bigger force in Friday’s 2200m mobile.
Gray was not as happy with where Jaccka Jorge drew in race 7.
The horse must negotiate the often tricky starting spot of barrier 1 in his first standing start since being removed from the unruly.
Gray said the draw might mean racegoers do not get to see the best of the horse, as he was still a work in progress.
However, punters could be rewarded if they follow the 4yr-old in races on bigger tracks over summer.
Gray also starts Ronnie Pickering in race 9, a graduation final filled with promising types.
The 4yr-old broke through for an impressive last start win when beating Undercover Mac, who went on to beat Cassius Bromac in his next start.
Ronnie Pickering, who is named after an irate British driver who went viral after a road rage incident, impressed when doing mid race work and fighting on to score in an impressive 2.42.6 time for 2200m in his last start.
That pace perfectly suited the pacer and Gray is hoping for a similar tempo today.
“He is a funny horse and he can be pretty tricky to train.”
“He can get pretty keen and if they go hard he can relax a little bit he has got a really sharp turn of foot.”
“But, if they go too slow he will get too keen and that will wipe him out.”
Gray also starts Dianne Lorena in race 10.
The 5yr-old looks to be the outsider of the trainer’s five-strong team at Ascot Park.