By Rod Fuller
Following a strong city victory in early March, Who is Game looks the testing material in the Easter Handicap as holiday racing returns to Port Macquarie this Saturday.
Popular Taree trainer, Michael Byers, has found the key to the daughter of Youthful Legs and followed a respectable fifth to Flaming Aces in the Trevor Hardy Handicap at Coffs Harbour with a deserved success at Warwick Farm over Turnberry. The mare won the Benchmark 71 event with great authority and should be hard to beat with Chloe Baker aboard in the $20,000 feature event on the program.
As Try “N’ Run a Muck is entered for Country Championships Wildcard Day at Muswellbrook on Sunday and Fabry looks set to make the journey to Rosehill the following day, Hotel Drive and Eye Striker look to be the main challengers to Who Is Game.
Hotel Drive is resuming from a spell, but proved he is close to the mark for a prominent first-up performance following a recent Grafton barrier trial win. The flashy Hotel Grand gelding from the Scott Henley stable was responsible for strong performances when previously in work and will be ridden by promising Victorian apprentice Theodore Nugent. Despite being in the veteran class, Eye Striker continues to race consistently around the provincial circuit and has been a wonderful money spinner for Wyong trainer, Ken Tynan.
An intriguing clash is on the cards in the Class 2 final event with the Neil Godbolt-trained mare, Latitude, matching motors with Classy Anna. Latitude was responsible for a comprehensive win over I’ll Take Money at Port recently before a narrow second to Bold Dapper at her most recent appearance in a similar race at Taree.
Classy Anna hails from the Allan Denham yard and has won twice from her last three starts with the Pluck filly scoring a decisive victory over Hard Merchandise at Taree recently.
There will be a great deal of interest in the performance of Waruna from the Kris Lees stable in the second event following strong barrier trial performances in preparation for Saturday’s assignment. The task will not be easy as prominent local trainer, Jenny Graham, has Let’s Rebelle engaged in the same event following a solid second behind Kaillis Pearl at her race debut.
All local thoroughbred followers wish Jenny the very best of luck with Victorem in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships at Randwick next Saturday.
The Tracey Bartley trained filly, In Good Time, looks to be an anchor wager in the Benchmark 57 Handicap following wins at Dubbo and Wellington when last in work and solid placing in a recent Beaumont barrier trial. With an unblemished first-up record and Leah Kilner’s claim, the Time Thief filly looks well placed over No Qualm and Excellas.
With good weather conditions prevailing, a large holiday crowd is anticipated to take advantage of the outstanding bar and catering facilities of the Ivan Livermore Grandstand. Full wagering resources will be provided on the local meeting together with racing around the country, highlighted by Stakes Day at Rosehill.
Racing action commences at 1.56pm with the final event on a seven-race program scheduled to start at 5.41pm. Free return bus transport will be provided from Gordon St Bus Station and Tacking Point Shops with timetable details available on the race club website.
Easter Saturday racing action wouldn’t be possible without the assistance provided by valued sponsors, The Provedores, Hire Port, Hastings Fresh Meats, Oxley Cove Holiday Apartments, Growers Market, Barrier Signs and John Oxley Motors with the club greatly appreciative of their support. This meeting will be followed by the Panthers Port Macquarie raceday on Friday 13th April and a meeting scheduled on Monday 23rd April with both being fully comprehensively covered by the TAB and Sky Racing.
Race 1 (John Oxley Motors CG&E Maiden Plate, 1100m): 9 Homeland Security, 8 Crowd Surfer, 10 Reckless Knight
Race 2 (Barrier Signs F&M Maiden Plate, 1100m): 12 Warrunda, 5 Let’s Rebelle, Stars Galawe
Race 3 (Hastings Fresh Meats BM 55 Hcp, 1500m): 3 So You Merge, 7 Toast, 2 Forever Alone
Race 4 (Growers Market CL1 & Maiden Plate, 2000m): 1 Hi Caliber, 10 Miss Zodiac, 6 Super Bonus
Race 5 (Hire Port BM 57 Hcp, 1000m): 2 In Good Time, 9 No Qualm, 8 Excellas
Race 6 (The Provedores Easter Open Hcp, 1200m): 2 Who Is Game, 11 Hotel Drive, 4 Eye Striker
Race 7 (Oxley Cove Holiday Apartments CL2 Hcp, 1200m): 4 Latitude, 5 Classy Anna, 3 Bridyn May