By Tony Megahey
Central District’s flyer Ori On Fire is aptly named with a brilliant 1000m class record at Tamworth when unextended from the outside draw, leading into a TAB $60,000 Class 2 Highway Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Young Mudgee trainer Cameron Crockett is invariably on the money in his regular trips to town, and Ori On Fire is his latest emerging prospect as country trainers intensify their campaigns for the upcoming lucrative Country Championships. Hence, the capacity acceptances for Saturday headed by prolific series winners Danny Williams and Terry Robinson.
Mudgee’s Crockett won an early season treble at Canterbury Park and Warwick Farm with the Hugh Bowman ridden Nictock, after winning an early TAB Highway event with Moss My Name followed by series placings with stablemates Barbass and Artistic Beauty.Crockett says Ori On Fire matches natural speed with Nictock and on the talent revealed at Tamworth three weeks ago, has the potential to be Crockett’s best yet.
“I’ve had a big opinion of this horse from day one, now he can go with Nictock anytime.
The difference is Nictock has had the match practice in town, but this horse will get further,” Cameron enthused. “He wasn’t at his peak when he ran that time at Tamworth.
“But it didn’t surprise us at all, because when we brought him back from a spell he went like a machine winning a Scone trial against open company horses. “Yeah, he’s pretty good, this gelding.
“He’ll be better out to 1200m or 1400m, but while still fresh the 1100m is ideal. I’m a bad judge if I don’t think I got a genuine Country Championships contender on my hands.
“Our only problem right now though is battling the elements out here. The heat’s been punishing and it’s not a good time at all to have horses travelling long distances. We’re just hoping for a respite on the way.”
At Tamworth, Ori On Fire, ridden by Kris Lee’s stable rider Andrew Gibbons, was electric. He crossed unextended from the extreme outside with 59.5kg and won by a widening four lengths in 56.49 seconds. The Benfica four-year-old gelding shared the local sporting headlines on a day with regional champion Greg Ryan who rode a phenomenal four winners.
The breeding of the horse contains some well-performed country racehorses as the dam, Are You Ready, won four from 15 starts, including the Coonabarabran Cup. Ori On Fire resumed impressively winning that Scone open barrier trial late December, and then confirmed at the Tamworth TAB meeting. At the “Gardens” Ori On Fire carries equal topweight of 59kg for Blake Shinn and is ideally drawn in barrier five.
“He’s got the natural speed to lead, but if the opposition overcook it, he’ll be just as effective off the pace. Blake will work that out from the good draw. But with form at 1200m and 1400m, we’ll be strong when it matters.”
Ori On Fire is likely to start favourite ahead of Williams’s Goulburn maiden winner El Mo, and the Brett Cavanough first start Highway winner, Another Sin, who is back in grade from city class.