By Gary Harley
Lower Belford trainer Todd Howlett has bright prospects of landing a winning double at separate venues on Saturday. Howlett will saddle up his promising filly Lady Ioness in the 1300 metre Class 1 Handicap on the Beaumont Newcastle Track while his ultra-consistent sprinter Nic’s Vendetta is early favourite for the 1200 metre Highway Handicap at Randwick.
Lady Ioness was most impressive when coming from a long way back to win on debut at Tamworth in August. Howlett sent the filly to the spelling paddock after her first start and she resumed in a Highway Handicap at Warwick Farm on January 7.
Lady Ioness didn’t jump too well and wound up finishing fifth behind Chosen Prayer. On Saturday she has drawn ideally in barrier four and Grant Buckley who has ridden her in both starts has the mount.
Howlett was quietly confident about the three-year-old's prospects when contacted by the Newcastle Herald on Thursday.
“I have a high opinion of this filly and there were excuses at Warwick Farm. She was only fairly away and she was never comfortable on the sticky going. Lady Ioness will appreciate the firmer track at Newcastle and although it is a pretty fair field I am confident she can win.
"I am hoping she can race midfield and I know she will be strong late. Lady Ioness had been trialling well before the Warwick Farm race and she has come on really good since that race,” Howlett said.
Nic’s Vendetta deserves a change of luck after three Highway Handicap placings at Rosehill and Randwick in October – November. The four-year-old is first up from a spell on Saturday but he won a recent trial at Gosford.
Champion jockey Hugh Bowman has been booked for the ride and the gelding has the rails barrier. Howlett is bullish about Nic’s Vendetta’s prospects.
“This horse is ready to win first up and it is a bonus to have Bowman aboard. Nic’s Vendetta won’t be far off the lead from the rails barrier and he has raced well in this class in town,” Howlett added.
James Cummings's mare Deluxe is set to continue her outstanding form on the Beaumont Newcastle Track when she steps out in a 1350 metre Benchmark 70 Handicap on Saturday. Deluxe has recorded two wins and a second from four starts at Newcastle and she was an easy winner on the track on January 7.
Salsonic, an impressive winner on the track at the last meeting is expected to salute again in the 1300 metre Class 1 Handicap. The three-year-old was last into the home straight but he stormed home to snatch victory. Salsonic is a back marker so he will appreciate the small field and he is on trial for a return to Metropolitan racing.
Newcastle Jockey Club is experimenting with a twilight meeting on Saturday with the first race at 2.49pm.