By Tony Megahey
A familiar TAB Highway scenario surrounding Goulburn’s astute John Bateman presents when the booming series extends to middle distance to accommodate potential stayers at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Bateman is represented by convincing Bathurst 2000m winner It’s A Lottery, weighted on 53.5 kilos for Tim Clark in a TAB $60,000 Class 3 episode over 1800m. The distance Highways have proved extremely popular and clearing conditions has ensured a capacity field with emergencies, numerous successful stables competing and last start winners.
Significantly, Bateman won the corresponding 1800m series introduction last year with talented mare Erika. It followed her win in the Queen of the South over 1400m at Wagga.
Bateman planned her 1800m Highway extension to perfection with 1500m Highway lead ups, and she won impressively. It’s A Lottery has been similarly targeted. Bateman won the 2016 Goulburn leg of the Country Championships with Lofty’s Menu and is back in city focus with It’s A Lottery.
“There’s not a lot of him, the drop to 57.5 from Bathurst is important and he’s a genuine, honest trier,” offered Bateman, who was foreman for the late great Guy Walter. “This race has some depth, but the form around him is really solid and we know he’ll run it right out.
“He was strong at Bathurst and at Goulburn, and was placed behind Kurt Goldman’s Hot Money who then two on the Gold Coast. Danny William’s Volpe beat him at Goulburn. They’re really promising types, likely city grade.
“This gelding is a full brother to Guy Walter’s Canny Ballad (Dream Ballad-Briar’s Lass) who was just super tough and genuine-city winner and unlucky with any amount of placings.” Bateman is overdue for a change of luck as recurring injuries have likely ended the careers of Lofty’s Menu and Erika.
Highway trainers have responded to vastly improved track conditions after a succession of extremely heavy surfaces resulted in a spate of scratchings. However, notable absentees from Saturday’s 1800m are 10-time Highway winner Matthew Dunn who won a sprint with Conniving last Saturday, and nine-time winner Matthew Dale who has accepted for a $100,000 fillies’ race at Caulfield on Saturday, with dual TAB Highway winner Clipper.
At Rosehill, Mudgee’s Cameron Crockett has a strong hand in topweight Barbass who has proven has proven Highway form and led all the way over 1620m at Dubbo ridden by Greg Ryan. Lightly-raced stablemate Kingsbridge also won there on pace for South African apprentice Jean Van Overmeire.
Both gallopers are hard race fit with every indication they will thrive out to 1800m. Rosehill is rated a soft six at present and in clearing weather every indication of an upgrade.