By Gary Harley
One of Australia’s best jockeys, Blake Shinn, will make a rare weekend appearance on Sunday at Newcastle Racecourse where he has an attractive book of rides. Shinn has mounts in six of the eight races and as most of them are fancied and will be carrying plenty of the punters' cash.
High flying Warwick Farm trainer Bjorn Baker has three gallopers heading to Newcastle and Shinn will be aboard the trio. They are High Point (race 1), Impavido (race 5) and Oleksandra (race 6). High Point, runner-up in his only two race starts, will run in a 1400 metre Metro and Provincial Plate.
The regally bred Impavido is very well-placed in a Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1850 metres) after three solid metropolitan Saturday placings and the three-year-old filly Oleksandra, a daughter of Dubai World Cup Winner Animal Kingdom, has to overcome a wide barrier in the 1200 metre Maiden Plate.
Baker, with 46 wins and currently third on the NSW Trainers Premiership behind Chris Waller and James Cummings, is bullish about the prospects of his trio: "High Point has had only two starts and he was runner-up in both. He chased home a subsequent city winner on debut at Wyong and on Melbourne Cup day he looked the winner in the straight at Randwick until the post.
"Third up over 1400 on the big track they will certainly know he is there. Impavido is a horse I have always had high expectations for. I am desperate for him to win another race as his only win was on debut ten starts back.
"I ran Impavido in the ATC Derby on a heavy tack in April and he didn’t handle the track and got a decent check. His recent Saturday Metropolitan form is very good but he needs a ‘kill’. This is his race if I decide to run.
"Oleksandra is rock hard fit, but after two recent placings and I will leave it to Blake to overcome the barrier. If the rain comes, a wet track won’t worry the filly. She is talented and bred to be pretty good," Baker said on Thursday. Shinn's other three rides, Corinth, Malaigo and Meliboea all have winning prospects.
Dubbo speedster Larlabrook, makes his provincial debut in the 900m Benchmark 71 Handicap and he will take some catching over the short course. Trained by 27-year-old former top Central West apprentice, Clint Lundholm, the four-year-old has built up an imposing record. From five starts Larlabrook has won three.
He was very unlucky when second in another and pulled up lame in the only start he was unplaced. He is a very fast sprinter and from the rails barrier, with champion country jockey Greg Ryan aboard, he is the testing material.
Lundholm was confident of a bold showing when I contacted him on Thursday: "This horse is pretty quick and will likely lead - and over 900 he will take some running down. He led all the way to win a Randwick Class 3 Highway two starts back and he pulled up lame when he failed at Randwick last start.
"He had a stone bruise but that was nearly a month ago and he is one hundred percent now. In the five years, I have been training I have only had one Newcastle starter and he had no luck," Lundholm said. Lundholm has one of the largest stables in the Central West with 31 horses in training.