Kiwis raid Menangle
By Adam Hamilton
THE All Stars barn will be looking to bounce-back from a very rare disappointing Aussie Carnival when they launch their Menangle assault on Saturday night.
It was a Summer of Glory to forget for Australasia’s most powerful barn, who didn’t snare a major despite attacking with stars like Self Assured, Oscar Bonavena, Chase Auckland and Smooth Deal.
Self Assured had to be content with two Group 1 seconds, but both were monstrous runs in the Ballarat Cup and 4YO Bonanza at Melton.
Australasia’s most exciting pacer and prepost favourite for the Chariots Of Fire and Miracle Mile is looking to return to winning form in the $50,000 Group 2 Hondo Grattan (1609m) at Menangle this week.
He’s there because the second to Lochinvar Art in the Bonanza didn’t qualify Self Assured for a Chariots Of Fire birth.
The Aussie TAB opened Self Assured a $1.55 favourite and he quickly firmed to $1.45 from gate nine this week with his main rival being the untapped and explosive Balraj, who is a $3.20 shot from gate 10.
Balraj, who is unbeaten in eight Aussie starts since coming from NZ, has brilliant early speed and will almost certainly pushed forward in search of the lead.
This will be Balraj’s first run for new trainer KerryAnn Morris, who took over from Anthony Simiana. Morris’ husband, Robbie, takes the reins and has been the pacer’s regular driver.
Classy Victorians Demon Delight (gate 11, $12) and Max Delight (12, $18) will also make their presence felt.
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A ho-hum support race at Menangle on Saturday night could totally reshape the NSW Oaks.
In an exciting twist for the already stellar card, Kiwi stars and the first two home in Victoria Oaks – Dr Susan and Stylish Memphis – will clash in a $14,280 fillies’ race over 2300m.
It’s an ideal race to sharpen them-up for the NSW Oaks heats two weeks later.
Under the preferential draw conditions this week, Stylish Memphis has drawn gate 10.
Dr Susan is out of the draw after causing the false start in Victoria Oaks so she will start from the outside (gate 11).
If there’s a blowout it could be emerging local Vincenzina, who stormed home from last to be beaten just half-a-metre by Dr Susan when they clashed in the Raith Memorial over a mile at Menangle on January 11.
Vincenzina has since scored two impressive wins at Menangle, the latest in a blistering 1min51.8sec mile on January 25.
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JIMMY Rattray’s decision to skip the Hunter Cup with Ignatius and stay home to build-up to the Miracle Mile could get a reward Saturday night.
Ignatius has drawn gate two and will come into the pole if emergency Wrangler doesn’t get a run in the 1609m free-for-all.
Star speedstar Majordan will likely burn forward and take the lead from gate eight, but Ignatius will be on his back or very handy.
Paul Court’s Hail Christian, who went back and never got into a 2300m free-for-all when he resumed at Menangle last week, is sure to be fitter, but will need luck from the outside draw (gate 10).