By Gary Harley
Wyong trainer Tracey Bartley tasted Group 1 success with his outstanding sprinter Sniper's Bullet in 2007 and 2009 and the former top jockey believes nine years on he may have another potential Group 1 three-year-old in the stable.
Mr Plow - a veteran of only three race starts - takes another step towards a start in next month’s Group 1 Queensland Derby at Doomben when he contests the 1400 metre Class 2 Handicap at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday.
In a very competitive race, Mr Plow s listed as a $8.50 chance on TAB fixed odds and this is by far the gelding’s toughest assignment in his short career.
The three-year-old made his debut with a strong finishing second behind Nationality in an 1150 metre Maiden on the Beaumont track on January 20.
He again finished powerfully in his second start when beaten half a length at Kembla in a 1300 metre Maiden in February.
Bartley then freshened up his potential stayer and he returned to the track at Hawkesbury on April 5 and stormed home to win a 1300 metre Maiden. Bartley is confident that Mr Plow will prove hard to beat on Saturday despite jumping from a Maiden to a Class 2.
“He is potentially a pretty fair horse, particularly over a staying trip. I believed from day one he would stay and I have taken him along slowly with the Queensland Derby in mind. All his three runs to date have been full of merit and he is maturing with each run.
"I have a program I want Mr Plow to follow and after Saturday's race we head to Queensland. He will run in the 1600 metre Gunsynd Handicap at Doomben on April 28.
"The next step will be a start in a 1800 or 2000 race then the Queensland Derby. It is ambitious but we have to have a crack,” Bartley said.
Originally from Mudgee, Bartley overcame stomach cancer in 2006 and the next year he won the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap with Sniper's Bullet. The battler won two Group 1s in Perth in 2009 - the Railway and the Kingston Town. Bartley rode 1175 winners in a successful riding career.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller will send seven of his team to Newcastle on Saturday. Blazeray ($2.60) and Ombudsman ($2.80) both trained by Waller are favourites for races one and three respectively. Blazeray is ready to win following recent placings at Warwick Farm and Newcastle.
Ombudsman is resuming from a two-month break but he has the benefit of a recent barrier trial. He was placed at Canterbury in February. Kiwi jockey Rory Hutchings will ride Waller's two favourites.
Paul Perry’s Flying Roses ($1.75) is the shortest priced favourite on the eight-race program in her debut over a staying trip in the 1875 metre Class 1 and Maiden Plate. The mare has raced in much stronger company where she has a win and five seconds from seven starts to her credit.
Flying Rose has been runner-up in all three starts on the Newcastle track and she finished strongly when beaten a nose over 1500 metres at Muswellbrook two weeks ago. Flying Rose is another attractive mount for Hutchings.
Kris Lees will saddle up six horses at Newcastle and the best fancied in early markets is last start Newcastle winner Greater Good. The horse will contest the 1400 metre Class 2 Handicap and she is a $3.30 chance with TAB fixed odds.
Chinese apprentice Qin Yong, who is spending time with Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup, will ride Greater Good which is owned by China Horse Club.