By Gary Harley
Newcastle trainer David Atkins is confident that his front-running sprinter Hunter Caulfield can end a frustrating run of recent placings at the Newcastle race meeting on Saturday.
The five-year-old gelding is early favourite for the 1600 metre Class 1 Handicap in his first attempt at the ‘mile’. Bred and raced by Maitland pharmacist Lyndon McLeod, Hunter Caulfield has been narrowly beaten in his past three starts, twice at Newcastle and once at Muswellbrook.
Left: Hunter Caulfield (Alison Threadwell) bolts in at Scone and will prove hard to run down at Newcastle on Saturday. Image by - Bradley Photographers
In his past two starts this month he has been run down in the last few strides over the Newcastle 1400m trip. His bloodlines on the dam’s side indicate that Hunter Caulfield should have no problem with the extra trip on Saturday.
Atkins was bullish when discussing Hunter Caulfield’s prospects: “This horse is going great and deserves to break through. If he is left alone in front - they won’t beat him! I am not worried about Hunter Caulfield running a mile as the family have won up to 2000 metres.
"I will instruct the apprentice Nick Heywood to lead on him and the boy’s 1½ kilogram claim will be handy. Hunter Caulfield’s owner Lyndon McLeod has had horses with me for twenty-five years and we have been associated with some nice horses,” Atkins said.
The Group-winning trainer has two other well fancied gallopers at Saturday’s Newcastle meeting. He will saddle up Plaisir in the 1200m Darren Jones Memorial Maiden and last start Taree winner Fratellino in the 1400m Benchmark 65 Handicap.
Plaisir a three-year-old with two Beaumont placings from three starts resumes and he possesses genuine speed. He has been trialling well and with Andrew Gibbons aboard will be hard to beat.
Fratellino bolted in at Taree on May 15 and three starts back the three-year-old led all the way to win at Newcastle.
“Plaisir bumped into a couple of smart ones last preparation. I want him ridden quietly on Saturday and I am confident he will win. Fratellino was great with the blinkers on at Taree and he will carry them again.
"He has gone up sharply in the weights so I have booked Nick Heywood and his 1½ kilogram claim will help. This horse is flying and he will test these,” Atkins said.
The powerful Godolphin stable will send six gallopers to Newcastle and the team will carry plenty of the punters' money. Birdsong (race 1) and Ennui (race 5) are short priced favourites while Organza (race 3), Chilcotin (race 4), Flow and Relaxed (race 6) will also represent the stable.
The Waterhouse-Bott stable has two early favourites at the meeting and the pair have great chanches. Angel’s Boy (race 3) and Stonebrook (race 6) will both be ridden by the Waterhouse-Bott crackerjack apprentice Rachel King.