By Rod Fuller
Despite being overwhelmed in the recent Mid North Coast Country Championships qualifier after attempting to lead throughout, Golden Comet ($5 on TAB fixed odds) looks set to return to the winner’s circle in the Carlton Dry Open Handicap at Port this Thursday.
Prominent local trainer, Margaret De Gonneville, has the Strategic Maneuver gelding racing particularly well with an overall record of 10 starts for four wins and two placings providing stakes earnings of just over $60,000.
Prior to the Championships assignment, the son of Air of Grace was responsible for a narrow victory over Sweet Missile at the circuit in early February and with a 50% strike rate on his home track together with a distinct appreciation of the projected good racing surface, there are plenty of positives going into the Open Handicap assignment.
Adding further confidence for supporters of Golden Comet is his pattern of racing on the speed, which could be a distinct advantage given the recent results at the track. Shelley Beach Road ($3.80 favourite) looks one of the major chances in the event following a chequered run behind Lucciola Belle in the recent qualifier with the Shellscrape mare luckless when trying to obtain a clear run.
John Sprague has appointed promising apprentice, Cejay Graham, for the assignment and it should be considered that the mare represented the association in last year’s $500,000 Country Championships Final at Randwick and is racing well enough to provide the testing material in Thursday’s race.
Mr Grumpy ($5.50) has been a consistent galloper for the Paul Perry stable and presents for the race with strong credentials following placings in the Quirindi Lightning before a last start third on heavy ground at Gosford behind Fine Hero.
Other chances in the feature event on the day include Alot Like Home ($3.90), who ran a creditable race behind Lucciola Belle while Laszlo ($7.50) and San Sierra ($15) are not without chances.
The Newcastle stable of Kris Lees is enjoying another stellar season with 121 wins and 200½ placings from 660 starters and looks to have strong chances peppered throughout the program.
Elgin ($2.15 equal fav) was not disgraced when a recent second at his home track behind Be Mindful with the Rip Van Winkle gelding poised to break his maiden status in the opening event while Rothman ($1.80 fav) is well placed in the maiden set aside for colts and geldings.
Chances later in the day include Raay of Time ($2.50 fav) and Heredero ($3 fav) while there are plenty of positives for the Snitzel filly, Itz Lily ($1.55 fav), in the distance event following placings at Cessonck and Newcastle.
Following the success of Haames in the Highway Plate at Randwick last Saturday, the Colt Prosser stable looks set to continue the great run of success with Stop the Fight ($6) heading the chances in the final event.
The Congrats mare deserves to break through for success with placings at Taree and Port Macquarie in preparation for the contest in the final race on the day.
Tas Morton has found the key with Komachi Force ($5.50) and the Duporth mare seems well poised to continue her winning ways in the Benchmark 66 Handicap following victories at Walcha and Port.
The club wishes to acknowledge the support of Carlton and United Breweries in the conducting of the program with some of their great products recognised throughout the day.
Being the only race meeting conducted in NSW on the day, all patrons are invited to take advantage of the catering, wagering and bar facilities on offer with the spacious lawns providing a unique aspect to viewing all the action.
A busy month of thoroughbred action continues for the club with Master Builders Race Day on Friday 22nd March followed by a full TAB and Sky program on Saturday 30th March.
Race 1 (Carlton Draught Maiden Plate, 1506m): 1 Elgin, 2 Nic and Run, 3 Arrogante
Race 2 (Victoria Bitter CG&E Maiden Hcp, 1206m): 1 Rothman, 4 Lucky For Some, 5 Kid Mac
Race 3 (Carlton Mid F&M Maiden Hcp, 1206m): 3 Campari Soda, 2 Raay of Time, 5 Smokin’ Quartz
Race 4 (Stella Artois 3YO & Upward CL1 & Maiden Plate, 2012m): 6 Itz Lily, 1 Gacela, 4 Consoling
Race 5 (Great Nthn Super Crisp Cl 2 Hcp, 1006m): 2 Quick Nick, 4 Jumper Leads, 5 The Eulo Queen
Race 6 (Pure Blonde BM 66 Hcp, 1506m): 9 Komachi Force, 6 Heredero, 2 Wewonya
Race 7 (Carlton Dry Open Hcp, 1106m): 7 Golden Comet, 6 Shelley Beach Road, 5 Mr Grumpy
Race 8 (Corona BM 58 Hcp, 1206m): 4 Stop the Fight, 6 Taken on Chance, 2 Di’s Diamond