Stormont ready for mile night
By Garrick Knight
While it’s been a bitterly cold week in the city of sails, Alexandra Park should be burning up tonight when the latest edition of the Auckland track’s regular all-mile race night is held.
Also featured on the card is the first monte trot of the year ahead of a full month of the novelty events in July.
Pukekohe horseman James Stormont takes three runners up the Southern Motorway tonight, including My Boy Boo, an early market mover in the monte, the night’s opening race.
And punters will get two bites of the cherry at him because the first two races are part of the TAB’s ‘Money Back Madness’ promotion, where they will refund up to $30 of a win bet on either race if the horse finishes second, third or fourth.
Stormont doesn’t know what to say about the converted former pacer, a son of Gotta Go Cullect.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he told HRNZ.
“A couple of weeks ago he had a trial under saddle and did everything right but he basically walked around just to ensure he got his ticket.
“I expect he will trot all the way but he’s racing some horses that have won five or six races.
“We’ve got a good jockey though (Tyla Hackett) and I’m happy with him all the same.”
Stormont recently took over the training of My Boy Boo from Andrew Sharpe, though he was well aware of the horse’s quirks as he had been driving him extensively on race night.
The decision to go down the monte route was born out of a desire to shake up the horse’s training regime.
“I really wanted to change his attitude and give him something different to think about.
“He had been in work a long time and needed a change to get his mind back on the job.
“What will be, will be, but I’m not expecting too much.”
Bookies opened him at $23 on Thursday afternoon but by Friday morning he had already firmed in to $15, still well adrift of race favourite Sol Invictus ($2.50).
The consistent but limited Sunny Pegasus has just the third mobile start of his career tonight and Stormont thinks it will put him in good stead.
“He’s placed at the last two mile nights so from a good draw this week, and off the back of a wee freshen up, I think there are a few things in his favour.
“His gallop last start was very uncharacteristic so we’ve changed a few things around and he seems bright, so fingers crossed.”
Bookies have Sunny Pegasus, from gate two, on the third line of betting at $8.50, the same quote as Aoraki and Little Bro, behind race favourites Eyre I Go ($2.70) and Astound ($3.20).
Completing his team is the maiden trotting filly Sunny Petite, a granddaughter of former champion mare of the 1990s, Pride Of Petite.
She was heavily backed on debut but made an early mistake.
The best version of her will go close to winning, according to Stormont, but there are lots of things against her.
“I think she’s got a real future, but it’s the same old thing with these maiden trotters.
“She’s in the last so will have to wait there all night because I have a horse in the first.
“She’s not used to racing under lights, and it’s a big step up from trialing against one or two horses racing six or seven.
“I just have to build her confidence up and as soon as she puts it all together, she’ll start winning races.”
Stormont says if she trots the whole way, the $7 on offer from bookies could be good value, but you always have to take inexperienced trotters on trust.
He’ll also drive Lovely Bundy for Peter and Vaughan Blanchard and, while she’s well out of form, he says not to discount her completely.
“She had a flat tyre last start so I thought she went good.”