An excellent trackwork report has boosted Hawkesbury trainer Noel Mayfield-Smith’s hopes of clinching another victory with On Angels Wings ($8 into $7.50 on TAB fixed odds) at Sunday’s home meeting. The improving young stayer is attempting to hurdle a class by winning the Skin Fitness Class 2 Handicap (1800m), having just shed his maiden status.
Race jockey Grant Buckley partnered the Pendragon four-year-old in his final gallop yesterday morning, and gave the gelding’s trainer a glowing report on his progress. “Grant said On Angels Wings has just improved out of sight,” Mayfield-Smith said this morning. “It will be interesting to see how far this horse can go.”
On Angels Wings has raced only six times and joined Mayfield-Smith’s stable earlier this year after finishing last at his first two starts at Hawkesbury over 1300m and 1400m 12 months ago.
His new trainer has taken him along steadily since winning a 1000m barrier trial at Hawkesbury in mid-September, and is understandably pleased with the steps he has taken.
At his third start for Mayfield-Smith, he was an excellent second at $51 to Beijing Board in a 1600m Class 1 Handicap at home on November 9 before overpowering his rivals in a Maiden Plate over the same distance (again at home) a fortnight later.
Mayfield-Smith is unconcerned about jumping On Angels Wings to a Class 2 contest, but would have preferred the gelding not to have drawn the usually coveted rails alley.
“There weren’t many suitable races, and with these middle-distance horses, you can either do the distance strongly or you can’t,” Mayfield-Smith said. “On Angels Wings can. Besides, if you go to a Benchmark 65, you might be taking on horses who have won three or four races.”
“This is the best option, and the mare (Graciousness) he beat last time has confirmed the form by winning at Kembla Grange last Saturday. Drawing the inside barrier hasn’t done us any favours though. On Angels Wings is a big-striding horse with a fluent action and likes a bit of room. Hopefully, things work out for us. If it does, I’m sure he will run well.”
Mayfield-Smith has country connections with his two Hawkesbury runners. On Angels Wings has Orange owners and Dubbo landscape gardener John Roser races the lightly-raced and unusually-named Mud Wasp ($61), who lines up in the Fastway Couriers Sydney Maiden Plate (1500m): “John came up with the name, having seen plenty of mud wasps in his landscaping work,” Mayfield-Smith explained.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Jason Attard also has two runners – and will oppose Mayfield-Smith in both. He runs Prodigy ($9, 1500m Maiden Plate) and As I Do ($10, 1800m Class 2 Handicap). Prodigy, a gelded son of Bernardini, ran his best race when a first-up third to Mo The Great in a 1300m Maiden Plate at Hawkesbury on November 23 after placing in trials at home and at Warwick Farm.
“At this stage of his preparation, the 1500m looks perfect for him,” Attard said. As I Do ran well below her best when last of seven runners as a $2.50 favorite in a Benchmark 60 Handicap (2100m) at that same Hawkesbury meeting on November 23. Attard has subsequently provided a veterinary clearance to stewards, and is expecting a much-improved performance from the mare on Sunday.
“As I Do burnt the candle early in that Hawkesbury race,” Attard said. “They went really slow in the early part and she over-raced and didn’t manage the distance. I decided to drop her back to 1800m, hoping they will run along. I gave her an easy week after her last run and she has done well since. If you go on her previous few runs this campaign, she has to be given another chance.”
The rail is in the true position for Sunday’s meeting. A “Good 4” rating was posted this morning, with a penetrometer reading of 4.98. Hawkesbury has received 24mm of rainfall in the past seven days (nil in last 24 hours), and 8mm of irrigation has been put on the track in the same period (again nil in last 24 hours).
Paul Joice’s selections:
RACE 1: RAKHISH, Birdsong, Prodigy
RACE 2: SEETHING JACKAL, Cash Strapped, Caper
RACE 3: LATIFA, Thinking Ahead, New Horizons
RACE 4: RADCLIFFE, Sensacova, Chilcotin
RACE 5: LUCKY HADA, Californiafirebird, Cool Dude Ausbred
RACE 6: DAWN RAID, Stroke Of Eight, Calabash Express
RACE 7: BEIJING BOARD, Mount Panorama, San Pablo
SPECIALS: LUCKY HADA, BEIJING BOARD, RADCLIFFE