If statistics can be used as a reliable guide then trainer Norm Gardner and Nights On Fire will be right in contention for the Thomas Bros Group Cup (1200m) at Wagga Wagga on Saturday.
Gardner has produced 10 winners from his last 50 starters which includes his latest with Nights On Fire on Wagga Gold Cup Day. The mare has her own strong record winning four and being placed four times from 11 starts over 1200 metres.
Below: Nights on Fire (Jeff Penza) - the mare will prove hard to beat at Wagga on Saturday. Image by - Bradley Photographers
The five-year-old has also raced eight times at Wagga for two wins, two second and two thirds and according to her trainer is better than when she won three weeks ago. Gardner had Nights On Fire listed to race at Wagga’s washed out meeting last week and feels the extra week has helped his horse.
“It was a little bit extra time to get over a hard run at Wagga and she has certainly come on this week,” he said. “I’m happier with her now than before she won at Wagga.”
Nights On Fire won a Benchmark 70 on May 5 and steps up to open grade, but it’s a comparable race given the strength of the form from the cup carnival.
Trainers Keith Dryden and Scott Collings hold a strong hand with Ultima Chance and Ziganui while Rock On Zariz comes off a last start sixth in Sydney.
Mitchell Road was beaten less than one length when a first-up fourth behind Nights On Fire and he is expected to be right in the finish.
Ziganui has the best form to win after a last start fourth behind So Willie at Hawkesbury and a third behind Maryore in the Provincial Championship final at Randwick. The gelding will start favourite and looks to have a class edge, but Gardner remains upbeat about his mare’s chances.
“She has been placed three times in Sydney. I think she will run a terrific race,” he said. Nights On Fire is a daughter of Lucifina who the same owners also raced with success.
Meanwhile, there will be interest in another impressive cup carnival winner when Taraahse starts in the Estella Rise Class 1 (1200m). The four-year-old destroyed her rivals by almost five lengths on Cup day and if she repeats that performances will win again.
She has the benefit of the inside draw and is another strong winning chance for jockey Kayla Nisbet who will also be aboard Nights On Fire.
Last start winner That’s The Ticket is likely to try and work forward while Snippet Of Gold ran a big race from back in the field when fourth at the carnival.