Entourage broke her maiden status this afternoon at Ararat making her OTI’s 250th individual winner. Bringing us on a high into the long weekend, Saturday looks to be jam packed with eight runners in Victoria and New South Wales, with another two runners in South Australia for the Labour Day Adelaide Cup meeting on Monday.
Kicking off the day is Serenade the stars in the 2000m BM90 for Peter Gelagotis and the team at Flemington. This horse has stripped fitter from his last run at the same track two weeks ago where he found the mile particularly sharp. Finishing off strongly and failing to lose any ground Gelagotis is pleased with his progress this campaign and hopes to see him improve under Jye McNeil over the further distance.
Instigator joins Serenade the Stars in the same race for trainer Aaron Purcell and is looking to improve on his impressive first up run in Australia last start at the 2000m Colac Cup. Powering home to finish third beaten just over half a length, this horse has gone from strength to strength for his new owners this campaign. With fitness on his side and having drawn barrier nine, in form jockey Linda Meech will need to ride accordingly to give this horse every chance.
To New Zealand mid-afternoon, Vin de Dance heads to the Group 1 Boncrusher Stakes at Ellerslie in what looks to be a tough weight-for-age field. We look forward to seeing Vin de Dance step up to the plate and take on the best horses New Zealand has to offer in the Group 1, including multiple Group 1 winning mare Melody Belle who will be attempting to add a fifth Group One to her tally for the season. Baker and Forsman are pleased with how Vin de Dance has come back from his recent spell and hope to see him replicate his last start Listed win, digging deep to tough it out right through the line.
Third run back from a spell, Night’s Watch heads to Flemington to once again go head to head with short priced favourite Avilius in the 2000m Australian Cup. Night’s Watch is working well under the watchful eye of the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace team who are looking to turn the tables in this Saturday’s G1 feature. Damian Lane takes to the saddle again this start looking to make use of the good draw. A resilient weight for age race with multiple group winners amongst the field, OTI are hoping to go one better than Gailo Chop’s close second place in the 2018 edition.
Later on the Saturday afternoon we turn to Edenhope for the Cup where Scherzoso headlines a field of just six runners. We hope to see improvement from Scherzoso’s last start where he was a touch unlucky throughout the concluding stages finding limited galloping room to utilize his prominent turn of foot. He has drawn wide so we are looking to see him settle mid-field, find a nice rhythm and work home.
In NSW we have High Bridge, Casterton and Plymouth Road in the Listed Randwick City Stakes. High Bridge comes off the back of a nice run last start and is expected to improve second up on a firmer track over further distance. A horse who doesn’t particularly enjoy the softer ground, the weather leading into the race will play a key role in his ability to handle the pressure from Jay Ford when the time comes to let down. Trainer Chris Waller feels that this run will serve High Bridge well as he progresses to 2400m plus and improves his race fitness this campaign.
Having finished off superbly last start and simply running out of gas the final furlong, Casterton looks set to do well under James McDonald over the 2000m journey. With improved fitness he should run a good race and Waller believes he should be right amongst them in the finish. Having drawn 10 of 16, we are looking to see James switch Casterton off and power home as he did last start at Rosehill.
Joining the two Waller runners is Plymouth Road for the Matthew Smith Racing team. The Tavistock gelding has come along well since his last run this preparation and is looking for further ground after finishing fifth last start at Randwick (Kensington track). Plymouth Road is another horse in the Listed Randwick City Stakes field that prefers the sting out of the ground, so Smith is hopeful that Sydney receives some rain over this evening and through to the morning – this should see him finish off well.
To the Labour Day Monday, Etna and Mantastic head to Morphettville for the Adelaide Cup meeting. Moving up in distance from 1400m, we hope Mantastic can find his feet in the 1600m Listed CS Hayes Memorial Stakes. A particularly strong edition of the race, a number of key Victorian runners are making their way across the border to contest the title. He has continued to work well under his new training regime at Chris Waller’s Flemington base, he is well placed to put his best hoof forward.
Etna also travels interstate to South Australia to contest the BM82 over 2004m for the Aaron Purcell, Enjoy Racing team. Etna’s last start at Moonee Valley was a luckless run being caught with no room to work to the line and pushed back as a result. He looks to rectify his last outing this start, having drawn well in barrier one with Dwayne Dunn on board and carrying just 54kg.
We look forward to a big weekend of racing and wish each of their connections the best of luck! Happy Racing!