Scratching not great for Bonnie Joan
By Michael Guerin
Horse trainers usually treat the news a key rival has been scratched from a group one race with a kind of political grace.
Which means they more or less lie and pretend they are upset for their fellow trainers, when in reality they are thrilled their horse is one step closer to the winner’s circle.
But not Cran Dalgety. Not this Saturday.
Dalgety was genuinely shocked and disappointed to hear star Aussie mare Carla’s Pixel was pulled out of the Harness Jewels on Monday, even though she might have been the hardest for Dalgety’s mare Bonnie Joan to beat.
The pair were set to both start off the second line in the $150,000 four-year-old Diamond but Carla’s Pixel will now not get on the plane across the Tasman after a poor last start performance.
While that should make Bonnie Joan’s task on Saturday easier, it has almost certainly made it enormously more difficult.
Bonnie Joan was originally drawn barrier two on the second line and set to follow through behind a fast beginner and get handy, which is about as good as life gets from the second line in a mile race at Cambridge.
But Carla’s Pixel’s withdrawal has hit Bonnie Joan hard on two front fronts. Firstly she moves to the inside of the second line, but it also lets emergency Christanna into the race and she has drawn the ace.
So Bonnie Joan has gone from being all but guaranteed being handy in the running line to starting directly behind an 80-1 chance who is certain to take a trail, meaning Bonnie Joan is facing a traffic nightmare.
“Oh, that is not good,” said Dalgety upon hearing the news of Carla’s Pixel’s scratching.
“I was quite comfortable with two on the second line but now everything has changed. I’m really happy with the mare but Dexter (Dunn, driver) is going to have to find some luck somewhere. And to be honest, I don’t know where.”
The race is likely to be Bonnie Joan’s last as she heads to the broodmare paddock a valuable commodity and the scratching of Carla’s Pixel and the subsequent draw reshuffle makes the race one of the most puzzling of the day.
Dalgety takes seven horses to the Cambridge mega meeting and while others have draws suggesting they will need luck, he is very keen to take that out of the equation with Pat’s Delight in the last race for the three-year-old boys.
The speedster has had a rollercoaster season, looking a potential early star when beating good older horses, racing below par on his Northern Derby trip then only going down a nose in the New Zealand Derby.
“We have had some good luck and bad but we want to take that out of the equation this Saturday,” said Dalgety.
“We are drawn inside the other favourites and have good gate speed so I want to see him in front and staying there.
“If we do that and they are still good enough to beat us then so be it,
“But we don’t want to be handing up and I don’t think there are going to be a lot of drivers who do this week.”
Pat’s Delight is locked in a three-way battle for favourtism around the $3 mark with his Derby conqueror Sheriff and Sicario for the last race, always one of the more dramatic on Jewels day.
The blazing early gate speed from at least of the horse on the front line coupled with the fact the All Stars have three reps in the race who will need to move early to have any chance suggest it will be one of the highlights of the day again.