By Rod Fuller
With an imposing strike rate in a relatively short racing career and an unblemished track record, Gironde is poised for continued success in the Carlton Dry Benchmark 66 Handicap at Port Macquarie on Friday.
The flashy chestnut gelding broke his maiden status on the synthetic surface in Canberra before being transferred from Nick Olive to the Newcastle stables of Nathan Doyle, with this move proving a masterstroke after successive victories at Taree and Port Macquarie.
Despite finishing down the track at Warwick Farm in a tougher assignment late last month, Gironde seems well placed to return back in the winner’s circle and it is significant that Grace Willoughby has been engaged as the rider by the stable to provide some weight respite from the 61kg impost.
Willoughby partnered the son of War to his most recent victory when accounting for Jonjo’s Comet by a neck at the circuit on heavy ground in early March with the anticipated improving conditions more to the horses liking.
As a further positive, Nathan Doyle is enjoying a wonderful training season with 18 wins, 30 placings and an imposing strike rate with Gironde one of many chances the stable has peppered throughout the program, headed by Rainy Day in the third event.
Dangers in the race centre around Oakfield Jet, following a late burst resulting in a most recent Tamworth success while Zioptimus has been racing consistently and could provide a lightweight chance.
Flushed with success following victory with Shy One in the Jim Browning Memorial at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday, the Barry Ratcliff stable run could continue with Campari Soda, one of the dominant chances in the Schweppes Class 2 Handicap.
The Dream Ahead mare is resuming from a spell since finishing fifth at Grafton in December, but doesn’t take long in coming to hand and does have a good record over the distance. A positive effort would be a terrific fillip for Ratcliffe with the respected Kempsey trainer not enjoying the best of health in recent times.
It won’t be an easy task for Campari Soda with keen form students assessing Crackneck, In a Step, Kid Galahad and Sparkling Rose as the stiffest opposition in the event.
The juvenile race has attracted an extremely interesting contest with Girls Kick On backing up from a creditable second in the time-honoured Wellington Boot when the Scissor Kick filly was narrowly rundown by Zeftabrook.
The Damien Lane-trained youngster will face stiff opposition with Outreach Belle returning to the track following victory at Grafton in March while Bay of Bengal has been racing consistently.
Questions also revolve the Jenny Graham-trained gelding Stable Talk, following a handy fourth behind Cogliere in a recent barrier trial with punters urged to follow betting transactions to assist in accessing the relative chances.
Gary Moore makes the rare journey to the mid-north coast with his chances spearheaded by Dawn to Good in the Maiden Plate following a strong recent second at Hawkesbury behind East Asia while Leisa Louise will be hard to beat later in the program.
The dominance of Country Championships-winning trainer, Matthew Dunn, looks set to continue in the final event with the last start Grafton winner, Ready to Rumble, and Dreamtime Magic highlighting discussions in the final race on the card.
Racing continues at Port Macquarie under the strict Coronavirus protocols with trainers, strappers, jockeys, officials, track staff and essential personnel the only persons admitted, which will prevent Club members, owners and members of the public from attending. No on-course wagering facilities will be available and essential personnel will be required to leave the racecourse after their horses have run.
Punters will be able to follow all the action live through the screens of Sky Racing and comprehensive wagering facilities will be provided by the various Tabcorp platforms. The club is greatly appreciative of the support provided by Carlton, Schweppes, De Bortoli Wines, Trackside Photography, Tabcorp, John Oxley Motors and McGuigan BMW in the staging of the program.
Race 1 – 12.35pm TRACKSIDE PHOTOGRAPHY MAIDEN PLATE (1000M): 6 Manly Hanover, 9 Frivolosophy, 7 Ready to Party
Race 2 – 1.10pm McGUIGAN BMW 2YO HCP (1000M): 9 Girls Kick On, 3 Outreach Belle, 2 Bay of Bengal
Race 3 – 1.45pm JOHN OXLEY MOTORS MAIDEN HCP (1500M): 13 Rainy Day, 14 Walton Hall, 3 Justitia
Race 4 – 2.25pm TAB.COM.AU MAIDEN PLATE (1200M): 4 Dawn to Good, 1 Mister Ripley, 8 Warrah Flash
Race 5 – 3.05pm SCHWEPPES CLASS 2 HCP (1000M): 5 Campari Soda, 1 Crackneck, 9 Sparkling Rose
Race 6 – 3.40pm DE BORTOLI WINES CLASS 1 HCP (1500M): 3 Monica’s Star, 1 Bandahara, 10 Serriano
Race 7 – 4.15pm CARLTON DRY BENCHMARK 66 Hcp (1200M): 4 Gironde, 2 Oakfield Jet, 14 Zioptimus
Race 8 – 4.55pm GREAT NORTHERN BREWING COMPANY CLASS 1 HCP (1200M): 2 Ready to Humble, 4 Dreamtime Magic, 5 Ultimate Power