By Tony Megahey
A replay of Caulfield races Saturday has reinforced the confidence of Tamworth trainer Melanie O’Gorman in ultra- consistent Suncraze for a TAB $60,000 Class 2 Highway Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Dual Highway winner Clipper was allocated 60kg when a neck third in a strong $100,000 fillies’ Saturday class sprint to Unique Lovely, and Suncraze gave Clipper half- a- kilo when 1.5 lengths second over 1100m at Randwick in late May.
The booking of in-form Corey Brown at 57.5kg is another positive, as is the fact that Suncraze gave Clipper several lengths from the home turn and closed strongly over 1100m on a soft track. “Yes, the form around us is strong, he’s a progressive three-year-old, worked super on the Tamworth course proper early week and we’ve got the right jockey,” enthused Melanie who rides her own track-work.
Friday’s Tamworth meeting had to be abandoned, but importantly Suncraze hasn’t missed any work through adverse conditions.
“When we race in Sydney, the Tamworth club is kind enough to make the course proper available to us," O'Gorman said . “Look, he’s a backmarker and relaxes ridden that way, we raced him too close and he over-raced when he was beaten at Newcastle. “We won’t be changing his racing pattern this time. He’ll get back, and hopefully there’ll be enough pace on so he can be strong late. “He’s suited out to 1200m because I think he’ll eventually get 1400m or a mile. “He’s just so honest; a pleasure to train and he adapts to any conditions. His owners and my team have been so supportive; we’re only a small racing stable.”
From just six starts, Suncraze has won once and frustratingly been runner up five times.
Newcastle and Scone form is as strong as any in the Highway series. The Clipper form, barrier two and the Brown factor will ensure that Suncraze is popular in betting markets. Particularly if the day’s racing pattern suits swoopers. Heading early betting markets are top weight Nic’s Vendetta and last start ACT winner Marco Man who beat promising On The Fiddle, trained by nine-time Highway winner Matthew Dale. It’s the improver with a light weight, Brenton Avdulla, and the big watch with the Dale influence.
Meanwhile Melanie’s main focus remains pre-training, while maintaining a small racing stable. “I’ve got six in work, been pre-training for many years, started riding work in in Scone, took out my training licence in 2015, and then moved to Tamworth.”
Melanie, highly respected in the industry, has two daughters, was previously married to profile trainer Tim Martin in Walcha and then Camden where she pre-trained. Early days at Scone, she started as a track work rider for the Greg Bennett and Luke Griffith stable before extending her racing interests.