By Rod Fuller
With a commanding record at his home track and a distance to suit, O’Driscoll ($4.60 on TAB) looks set for a successful return in the Priscilla Looker Open Handicap at Port Macquarie on Friday.
The son of O’Reilly was spelled following a creditable fourth behind Mo the Great in the Krambach Cup at Taree in October and his two efforts since resuming should prove an ideal preparation for the assignment.
Respected local trainer, Tas Morton, took O’Driscoll to Taree and the gelding was not disgraced when fourth behind Casino Mondial in open company before being beaten by Emperor Harada at Gosford three weeks ago.
Possessed with a 50% winning strike rate at Port together with an imposing record over the 1500m journey, O’Driscoll, is set to return to the premier spot in the third event.
Evopex ($5.50) is assessed as the main danger by keen judges with an even second behind Burbank at Armidale last week indicating the Northern Meteor gelding is set to continue the tremendous strike rate enjoyed by the Jim Jarvis stable.
Stephen Lee stable had a cracking day at Grafton on Monday with a training treble and has Polemic ($4.40) engaged in the race with the son of Street Cry having his second run from a lengthy break.
Nombuso ($4) was responsible for an eye-catching second behind Dawn Too Good at the gelding’s first run for Neil Godbolt since transferring from the Chris Waller stable and is set to break his maiden status in the opening event on the program.
The assignment won’t be easy with Clare Cunningham making the journey from her Warwick Farm base with Aradhana ($2.50 favourite) following the filly’s recent placings at Queanbeyan while Bravio ($4) and the debutante, Black Run ($7), have undeniable chances.
The clash between Princess Ariana ($3.40) and Frivolosophy ($2.90 fav) in the Ron Dufficy Maiden should provide a great deal of interest with both gallopers indicating success was close following solid placings in recent efforts.
The John Sprague and Belinda Hodder combination look poised for continued success with Lucky for Some ($3.60 fav) in the following event while there are strong chances in the Greg Radley Class 3 Handicap headed by Hard Merchandise ($5.50), Jule's Spirit ($6) and Gidgee Guy ($5 fav).
Hard Merchandise has been a model of consistency for Warren Gavenlock when previously in work with placings at Ballina, Grafton and Port Macquarie before finishing down the track in Highway company at Rosehill last November.
The Hinchinbrook gelding normally comes to hand quickly and it might be wise to follow the market trends in assessing the chances of candidates in the penultimate event while Gentlemen’s Words ($3.30 fav) will prove the toughest competition in the last.
Port Macquarie Race Club acknowledges the association with Sky Racing over many years and has named all races on the program after the various personalities who contribute to the great racing coverage provided.
Particular mention goes to Andrew Bensley who leaves the organisation on ANZAC Day after providing stellar racing coverage for the Sky Network over more than two decades with an overall career in Radio and TV spanning around 40 years.
It is also significant to see recognition for Gary Kliese, who has covered racing in the district with diligence and integrity for more than 20 years and the addition of Priscilla Looker further enhances the superb coverage enjoyed by the club.
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.
Race 1 – 12.35pm DAVE STANLEY 3YO MAIDEN HCP (1006M): 2 Nombuso, 4 Aradhana, 1 Bravio
Race 2 – 1.10pm SHAWN COSGROVE MDN PLATE (1506M): 6 Crazeelil, 2 Munsa Magic, 3 The Premier
Race 3 – 1.50pm PRISCILLA LOOKER OPEN HCP (1506M): O’Driscoll, 2 Evopex, 3 Polemic
Race 4 – 2.25pm RON DUFFICY MDN HCP (1206M): 2 Princess Ariana, 1 Frivolosophy, 7 Tough Case
Race 5 – 3.05pm GLENN MUNSIE CLASS 1 & MAIDEN PLATE (2012M): 2 Lucky for Some, 1 Egyptian Pharoah, 9 Lime and Sugar
Race 6 – 3.40pm GARY KLIESE CLASS 2 HCP (1506M): 1 Banjo’s Voice, Cash Bundle, 3 My Desire
Race 7 – 4.15pm GREG RADLEY CL 3 HCP (1006M): 8 Hard Merchandise, 5 Jule’s Spirit, 4 Gidgee Guy
Race 8 – 4.50pm ANDREW BENSLEY FAREWELL BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1206M): 8 Gentlemen’s Words, Spirit in the Sky, 7 Supreme Diva