BRETT Cavanough and The Monstar have unfinished business to attend to at Grafton.
The sprinter is trying to go one better in this year’s $160,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) after running second in last year’s event.
He was unlucky not to win 12 months ago and has drawn worse (15) this time around but Cavanough isn’t concerned.
He’s rock-hard fit fourth up after running behind Santa Ana Lane in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) last start and before that won a Group 2 race on the Sunshine Coast.
BEST BETS WITH MATT JONES: GRAFTON
BEST BET: CHALMERS (Race 6, No. 4)
He’s been set for this race and has been in top form in town this preparation and if he repeats his past two runs he should be too good for them.
NEXT BEST: THE MONSTAR (Race 7, No. 1)
He’s got the top weight but it isn’t too much of an ask and he’s proven at the top level. and if the rain does come he’s even harder to beat.
Leg 1: 3, 4, 5
Leg 2: 1, 2, 4
Leg 3: 1, 2, 8
Leg 4: 2, 5, 6
JOCKEY TO WATCH: Craig Newitt has ridden more than 30 Group 1 winners and comes up to Grafton from Tasmania for four rides including the Guineas favourite Chalmers.
BEST BETS WITH MATT JONES: WARWICK FARM
BEST BET: MR HAUSSMANN (Race 5, No. 3)
He’s third-up and peaking now and will thrive off running just last Saturday. And he gets Hugh Bowman to ride.
TRAINER TO WATCH: Bjorn Baker brings four chances to his home track today and Taygeta and Versetto lead the way.
Cavanough says he’s primed for another bold showing.
“He travelled up well and the track is similar to what it was last year when Calanda had to run a track record to beat him. He did a bit wrong that day too,” he said.
“He’s drawn 15 this time and I don’t think that affects him because he’s a better wide runner. From 15 you’re not going to get into any trouble.”
Cavanough has had an open mind about where to send The Monstar this preparation mainly due to the fact he’s one of the best wet trackers in the country.
“The best way to describe it is that he’s as effective on a Soft 7 as he in on a Good 3,” Cavanough said.
While there’s no significant rain to follow this week, the Grafton track is likely to be in the Soft range which gives him a good chance of putting his best foot forward.
He’s got 59.5kg while most of his rivals only have to carry 54kg, but considering what he’s done to date he’s got into the race with a realistic weight.
“I just wanted to replicate what he did last season. I could have went into town but I would have bumped into the Ferrari (Menari) and co,” Cavanough said.
“He’s got to lump a bit of weight but he’s done that his whole life. I know it’s been a while since a horse has won the Ramornie with that weight but I still think he’s well weighted.
“He’s got half a kilogram more than he carried last year and he’s won a Group 2 race since.”
The Monstar, who has won 12 races, has been racing in Group company for the past three years and of late has run behind the likes of Redzel, In Her Time and the red-hot Osborne Bulls.
Cavanough says his class will take him a long way and Skye Bogenhuber has ridden him at his past two starts and they get along well.
“People have said to me that they’ll lead him but they’re talking about horses that have led Class 6 fields and he’s lead and sat up on the speed with Redzel and In Her Time,” Cavanough said.
“He’s got different gate speed to what most think. He can do stuff wrong and still win and he’s fit and well.”
Cavanough still thinks it’s going to be a difficult race to win considering the poor record of top weights in the race.
“There’s some good trainers brining nice horses to the race,” he said.
WARWICK FARM: KENNY SUCCEED GUNNING FOR FOUR STRAIGHT
TRAINER Kody Nestor knows there isn’t a better opportunity to take Kenny Succeed to town and he arrives at Warwick Farm (Wednesday) shooting for four-straight wins.
The Dubbo-based Nestor has had the six-year-old for his past eight starts and he’s got him to win four times and place on a further three occasions.
He races in the final event on the card, the Spring On Sale Sprint (1100m).
“We were originally going to take him to Birdsville when we got him but he’s exceeded our expectations,” Nestor said.
“He’s earned his shot in Sydney and he’ll be competitive.
“He’s been in the money nearly every time since I got him and I think he just likes where I train. He goes out in the paddock and enjoys it. He’s a quirky horse and if he’s happy he races well.”
Kenny Succeed’s wins have come in the bush including a last start win in the Coonamble Cannonball and he will be Nestor’s first city runner.
“I rode in Sydney a few times but it’s a bit different taking my own horse down there. He’s worth giving a shot in town,” Nestor said.
“He’ll love the jar out of the track so this is a good opportunity for him.”
All of his past four wins have come when leading the field into the home straight.
The step up to city grade means he’ll struggle to bully the field out in front but he’ll still be up on the speed making his own luck with Jake Pracey-Holmes on board.
He jumps from barrier eight and he’s won two from five and placed a further two times at Wednesday’s trip.
“He’s a pretty one dimensional horse who shows a bit of pace and I think he races better when he’s in front.”
“There’s a bit of pace in the race with the likes of All Stand so I’ll leave it up to the jockey. The more you hold him up though the more he pulls so if he gets his own way in front it would be ideal.”
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES: GRAFTON
It’s Relative comes off a huge last start win but has to carry 2.5kg more to win this race. It’s not beyond him on his current form and he loves the trip. Husson’s Pride brings sound Queensland form down and even though he was eighth last start he wasn’t beaten far. Risaldar has only won once from 10 starts but it could be so much better than that and he’s flying at the moment. Salad Dodger has been racing much better company than this so don’t back off him.
BET: QUINELLA 1, 5
This looks to be a good race for Chalmers. He’s trained by Kris Lees and brings in good city form, including a last start win at Warwick Farm and before that he ran second on a Saturday to the red-hot Gresham. He’ll get the perfect run with Craig Newitt on board. Mishani Bullitt has to carry 61kg which is his biggest problem. He’s in good form despite not winning of late and he really loves his racing. He’s had 23 starts already. Nicci’s Gold has to be in this on form too. She’s got 58kg which is a tough ask for a filly but she’s been winning and racing well in Saturday city grade and will get a nice run.
BET: CHALMERS TO WIN
The Monstar brings by far the best form lines into this race and has been a regular Group 1 performer over the past three years. He should have won this race last year and only carries 0.5kg more this time and has won a Group 2 race since. Zestful beat The Monstar the last time they met and she’s looking to add to her impressive first-up record (4:3-0-0). Snoopy drops in grade for this and despite finishing ninth and fourth at his past two he’s been less than three lengths off the winner on both occasions.
BET: THE MONSTAR TO WIN
Art Attack is the most consistent horse in the race so he can be relied on to put in a big performance and he really flies at Grafton. Glen Ord’s Queensland form has been great and he will love the sting out of ground and if the forecast shower arrives his chances go up. Chantilly Chateau shoots for three-straight wins and she too wants the rain to come and she’s proven at the trip. Brilliant Jet will enjoy the trip also.
BET: ART ATTACK TO WIN
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS: WARWICK FARM
Zonk is good enough to be racing in Saturday grade so expect her to run a big race second-up after a good effort on her return when second to Vienna Romance. Her worst finish at Warwick Farm from four starts is second. Sweet Scandal has to take on the older horses but she’s got the toughness to do it and gets the barrier (4) to ensure she gets the gun run. Mollyfied comes off a last start win but needs to lift to keep that form going while Gayatri drops back 100m in distance after a debut win where she needed the whole straight to gobble them up.
BET: ZONK TO WIN
Carluca can’t take a trick. He’s drawn poorly after enduring two luckless runs this time in but he’s got Brenton Avdulla on today and if gets the breaks he’s got the talent to win. Mr Haussmann is on the very quick back-up from Saturday where he ran less than two lengths fourth to stablemate Seahampton and a repeat of that runs makes him hard to beat. Shock Alert and Fantastic Man are going better than their from reads on paper while McMahon was a little disappointing second-up but Chris Waller wouldn’t be sending him here if he hadn’t done well at home since. Doosey is one to watch at odds.
BET: MR HAUSSMANN TO WIN
Forgive Pianissimo for his last run when he was badly held up and couldn’t get clear running until the final 100m. He’s good enough to win this with even luck. As is Magicus for Team Snowden. He’s knocking on the door after running into two better ones at his past two starts and he gets Hugh Bowman on. Mad Fox has the talent to give this a shake but he’s got to get some luck and begin better. La Point only got beaten by the progressive Tonsor last start.
BET: BOXED TRIFECTA 2, 5, 11, 12
Oriental Runner drops massively in grade and naturally gets the top weight and won at his only go at the track. All Stand has been letting the punters down this preparation in the bush but today’s conditions suit. Argent D’or faces his easiest test in a while and has form behind She Knows so if he’s to win today is the day. Wander drops back to 1100m which suits while Kenny Succeed has won three in the bush and this is the time of the year to snag a city win. Tash Burleigh has a big opinion on Territorial.
BET: ARGENT D’OR TO WIN