The Falcon is back at Addington, and in with a chance
By Michael Guerin
Don’t give up on The Falcon just yet.
That is the advice from regular driver Gerard O’Reilly as the rugged pacer heads to Addington tonight in what looks an ideal race.
The seven-race winner of $165,000 meets a few horses who are well short of those marks in Race 6, the 1980m mobile for intermediate pacers.
The best version of The Falcon is better than intermediate, with his strongest form last season very consistent with occasional trips to open class, like when he was seventh in the New Brighton Cup.
He has had his issues too, with a breathing problem in the spring possible triggered by pollen that curtailed his racing then.
The Falcon returned with a below par effort at Motukarara in late December but he wouldn’t be the first horse to get to far back in a big country cups field and struggle to get into the race.
“He has trialled since and he was a lot better, running on well for third,” says O’Reilly.
“I think Geoff and James (Dunn, trainers) are a lot happier with him and I think we will see him come back to something like his best in the next few starts.”
Tonight looks a good race for the six-year-old but O’Reilly warns he may not launch the tough son of Bettor’s Delight at the start so tempo could be a factor.
The race could prove to be tactical, with plenty of early speed and two of the biggest players there could be the Dalgety pair of Watermelon Sugar and Fernetti.
“I’d rate Watermelon Sugar the slightly better chance this week,” says co-trainer Cran Dalgety.
“He went two good races on the circuit whereas Fernetti galloped away in the Cup up there and had a hard run so he might still be on the way back up after a quiet time.”
While the main pace is very even the open trot tonight should be Oscar Bonavena’s to lose after his stunning last few months of 2024, with his only real danger being if he was to be slow early and a freegoer like Smokin Bandar got an uncontested lead and sprinted a 56 second last 800m.
But all things being equal, Oscar should continue on his winning way.
The other highlight of the night is the last race which sees some smart three-year-olds headlined by unbeaten filly Moments Like These (R9, No.8) but she takes a decent step up in grade and her $1.70 opening quote looked short compared with the $4.20 for stablemate Major Hot.
O’Reilly has the handy Bettor Be Sharp in the same race and expects a far better run than last start and suggests the five-year-old is worth following.