By Gary Harley
Former South Australian trainer Mark Minervini, who only moved to Newcastle two weeks ago, is confident his short course sprinter Calipari can get the stable off to a flying start at Saturday’s Newcastle race meeting.
The 53-year-old Minervini has nine horses currently stabled on the Newcastle Racecourse and Calipari will be his first starter at his new ‘home track’ in the 900 metre Maiden Plate.
The four-year-old was formerly trained by Peter and Paul Snowden and he was runner-up to his speedy stablemate King at Newcastle in May 2018.
Clients of Minervini purchased Calipari from the China Horse Club in mid-2018 and the gelding was placed twice for his South Australian connections in December last year. The son of top sire Written Tycoon won an 800-metre barrier trial on Newcastle’s Beaumont track by seven lengths earlier in the week.
Aaron Bullock will ride the South Aussie speedster on Saturday and Minervini discussed his horses’ prospects on Thursday.
‘I could have started Calipari first up in Adelaide, but I decided to hold him back until we got to Newcastle. He led on his ear in the trial earlier in the week and Grace Willoughby, who rode him, said she had him under a very tight hold. He would not have blown a candle out after the trial and if Calipari runs up to that form I am confident he can win.
The Newcastle Jockey Club’s Matt Benson and Michael Buckley are both from South Australia, so I got in touch and I flew up to check out the training facilities a couple of times and thought this is the place for me.
The prizemoney in NSW is so attractive and at my age I believed I needed a new challenge. It is difficult to find owners in South Australia because of the prizemoney and negativity in that state. We are very excited to be here’ Minervini said.
Former top Jockey Peter Robl has given the go ahead for his four-year-old Version Two to take his place in the final event, the 1200 metre Maiden Handicap. Robl has scratched Version Two twice recently because of wide barriers but the gelding has drawn well in barrier three on Saturday.
‘He will run on Saturday from the good barrier and he will give a good sight. However, I am terrified of the Snowden Filly Mayaaseh. She was placed on debut in the Group 3 Gimcrack in September and she wasn’t far away in the group 3 Widden in February. If Mayaaseh is going as well now she will blow the field away.
Version Two found the winner too nippy on debut at Gosford on July 27. The 1200 metres is more to his liking and he has the speed to box seat. He is working well on the track and I’m hoping he brings that form to the races.’ Robl said on Thursday.
Former Japanese mare Stellar Impact is an interesting runner in the 1895 metre Maiden plate. She was placed in two of her six starts in Japan and she has her first Australian start for the Waterhouse-Bott stable on Saturday. Stellar impact won a recent Randwick Trial.