McGraths form to continue at Timaru
NZ HARNESS NEWS
It has been like a season from hell for trainer Nigel McGrath but he may well have turned the corner.
The leading Canterbury horseman had trained just the one winner until My Wee Man won the Rangiora Summer Cup a few weeks ago and Samskara also returned to form at that track during the week.
McGrath was much happier with Sheriff’s placing in the Central Otago Trotting Cup on Wednesday and he is now confident last year’s New Zealand Derby winner is heading in the right direction again.
McGrath’s return to form should continue at Timaru on Saturday when his promising three-year-old trotters Jake The Mus and Majestic Chevron resume in a 2000m mobile maiden.
Both have the Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton in their immediate sights and they could easily quinella the event if they get things right.
Jake The Mus, a Muscle Hill-Majestic Kenny colt which McGrath bought at the Premier Sale for $55,000, showed he was up to last season’s good juveniles with a cheeky second at Rangiora to Cheerful and a close third in the Yearling Sales race at Addington.
He won two trials at Rangiora early last month and could start odds on at Timaru.
His stablemate could be the horse that poses him the most problems despite having no trials this time in.
“We took Majestic Chevron to the Rangiora trials just before Christmas, but it was a dreadful day and the track was awful so we packed up and went home after the first heat,” said McGrath.
“She was a bit behind Jake The Mus last season but I think she’s caught him up and I’m expecting her to be competitive against the colts this year.
“She can go to Ashburton as well and then we’ll focus on the Oaks races in March.”
Blair Orange has driven Jake The Mus right through and McGrath will drive Majestic Chevron himself.
“We’ve just had some wee steering issues with Majestic Chevron and I’m making some gear changes, so I just want to make sure we’re on the right track with her.”
Majestic Chevron is a daughter of Majestic Son and the good trotting mare Lough Beg and is raced by her breeders in Graham Beirne and the Bailey family, all good long time supporters of McGrath.
Lough Beg is a half-sister to good trotters in Arboe, Ballyronan and Le Reveur.
While her first three foals have been useful sorts in The Best Beg, Beg Hall and Beg For Chevron, she is probably due a good one.
McGrath knows that Jake The Mus will likely be up against it when the time comes to tackle the likes of Enhance Your Calm and Oscar Bonavena in the trotting features this season, but at least that pair are not race eligible for the Yearling Sales race and that event in May will be their focus.
Jake The Mus is owned by Americans in Gordon Banks and Marc Hanover and they share in the ownership with breeders Lex and Heather Williams in another promising three-year-old trotter and close relation in One Over Da Stars.
That Muscle Hill colt from One Over Kenny, named One Over Da Son, was in the same trials as Jake The Mus last month and McGrath plans on rolling him out at Washdyke in a fortnight.
“I had to back off on him after he developed some health issues but he’s right up there as well.”
His half sister by Majestic Son, One Over Da Skye, has been in hot form in Otago and Southland over the Christmas-New Year period.