By Gary Harley
Lower Belford four-year-old Magic Choir steps out for the first time in his comeback to racing after a tendon injury at the Newcastle Port Stephens Cup race meeting on Saturday.
Trainer Todd Howlett pulled the pin on what was a successful spring campaign when he detected the tendon injury following Magic Choir's brilliant Rosehill win on December 9 last year.
On Saturday, the entire resumes in the final event, the Palmer Family 1200 metre Benchmark 69 Handicap.
After two unplaced country starts early last year, Magic Choir resumed with a win at Tamworth in October followed by two impressive wins at Scone and Rosehill.
His record stands at three wins from six starts and Magic Choir has had two recent barrier trials in preparation for Saturday's race.
Howlett said from his Hunter Valley property that the son of Magic Albert has done plenty of work: “The two trials and plenty of trackwork has him pretty fit.
"I gave him a very quiet trial at Muswellbrook at the end of May then two weeks later we upped the ante and he went to the line alongside a subsequent winner.
"This horse was flying late last year when we had to terminate the campaign because of his tendon. Normally Magic Choir would need further than 1200 metres, however, he is fresh enough to win. He was due to resume at Rosehill last Saturday but I scratched him because of the heavy track. I won’t run him on a heavy track,” Howlett said.
Howlett was in the winner’s circle at Canterbury on Wednesday when Dalmatia Prince with stable apprentice Mikayla Weir on board was successful.
Former European stayer Nahuel is expected to put back-to-back Newcastle wins together when he contests the opening event the Salamander Bay Recycling 2340 metre Class 1 and Maiden Plate.
The four-year-old, in only his second Australian start, demolished a 1850 metre maiden field at Newcastle on June 9. Nahuel should have no worries with the longer trip as he raced well over 2400 metres in France.
A massive drop in class should see Witherspoon break through for her first win in the Nelson Bay Bowlo 900 metre two-year-old Maiden Plate. The filly was only beaten a length in the Group 3 Bruce McLachlan at Doomben in December.
She was also placed in the Listed Calaway Gal at Doomben in December. She won a recent Wyong trial and the short course is ideal as she has speed to burn.
Hawkesbury-trained Sun And Heir could break his ‘duck’ in his 16th race start when he steps out in the Newcastle & Port Stephens Game Fish Club 1600 metre Maiden Handicap. The four-year-old was narrowly beaten at Newcastle this starts back and senior rider Jeff Penza goes aboard on Saturday.