Wildwest to debut for Team McCarthy

By Adam Hamilton 

Reigning WA Pacing Cup winner Wildwest finally has his first run for Team McCarthy at Menangle on Saturday night.

The highly talented Kiwi-bred is owned in similar interests to King Of Swing and was across from Perth in the hope he could follow in that champion’s hoofprints.

Wildwest made it 13 wins from just 28 starts when he caused a huge upset for trainer Gary Hall Sr to win the Group 1 WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on February 4.

Soon after, he was sent across Australia by road to Belinda McCarthy’s stables near Menangle. Wildwest won his only New Zealand start by over 12 lengths at Winton in 2019 for trainer Lauren Pearson before heading across the Tasman.

Co-trainer Luke McCarthy said it was a “wait and see” with Wildwest on Saturday night.

“It’s hard to get a good line on him yet,” he said. “He came across by road and the trip really knocked him around. It’s taken us a long time to get him right again.

“We’re not going there expecting him to win this week, more hoping he runs well and can build on it going ahead.

“Hopefully he runs well and adapts to the mile racing at Menangle so we can see the best of him again in time.”

Wildwest has the outside draw in a strong 1609m free-for-all field on Saturday night. The other key runners are his stablemate Alta Orlando (gate nine), Zeuss Bromac (10), the exciting former Kiwi Fire Fox (eight) and last week’s winner Loorrim Lake (two).

With McCarthy in Queensland campaigning a team for the next couple of months, Chris Geary will take the reins on Wildwest for his return.

There will also be huge interest in another Team McCarthy pacer at Albion Park on Saturday night.

Jilliby Kung Fu, winner of the 2018 Chariots Of Fire and second in the Miracle Mile that year, is back from injuries and stints at stud.

Formerly trained in Victoria by Marg Lee, Jilliby Kung Fu has been nursed back to fitness and soundness at the McCarthy’s fantastic Cobbitty Equine facilities.

“We’re really pleased with how he’s come back,” Luke McCarthy said. “He ran a terrific second at the trials (Menangle) behind Cruz Bromac last week.

“On what he’s doing at home, he could be up with our very best horses like Spirit Of St Louis and Expensive Ego.

“We’ve opted to take him to Albion Park because it’s an easier first-up run for him than Menangle.

“The way he’s come back, he’ll be set for the big races up here.”

McCarthy said Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile runner-up Spirit Of St Louis was also close to a return.

“He’ll have a private trial at Menangle this week then probably come to Queensland for another trial and then return to racing here,” he said.

“Every time we’ve given him a spell, he’s absolutely thrived. He seems great.”

McCarthy also has high hopes for recent Kiwi import Mr Ibiza, who makes his debut for the stable from the pole in a strong three-year-old race (race seven) at Albion Park on Saturday night.

“We think he’s a nice Derby horse,” he said.

Mr Ibiza, a son of Sunshine Beach, raced 19 times in NZ for three wins, three seconds and four thirds.

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