The penultimate night meeting of the season was held in Launceston on Wednesday, with the Soft 5 track proving to be a very fair surface with winners able to win from anywhere in the field for much of the night. Barry Campbell trained a couple of winners to take the honours, while three riders notched up a winning double – Brendon McCoull, Bulent Muhcu and apprentice Stephanie Thornton.
Race 1 6:15pm Sofitel Melbourne 3yo Maiden (1100m)
Chase And Status showed good speed to lead at a strong tempo early, with Cranbrook working around the field to sit 2nd. The tempo stayed solid throughout and the overall time was very good for this grade.
Cranbrook was heavily backed on debut to start a clear favourite ($2 to $1.75) and he was too strong over the final stages to record an impressive win. It was a smart ride by McCoull who pushed on to get outside the lead, and having no horse in front of him was a bonus as he was under pressure on the turn while the leader tried to slip away. Once he balanced up however he was too good, running the 2nd fastest last 800m of the night. Still a bit raw, he ran the time of a smart horse and he looks to have a big future.
Chase And Status was no match for the winner but she beat the rest comfortably with plenty of merit to her run. Her last 200m was quite slow, so she may have needed the run but would also be suited by 1000m. Arving ran a much improved race for 3rd and is also worth following on that effort.
Race 2 6:50pm Night Racing Grand Finale 12th April Colts & Geldings Maiden (1200m)
Gee Gee Pureblonde was a surprise leader here with an above average first section with Lads Curfew working forward to sit 2nd. The overall time was ok for this grade with the first two home standing out from the rest.
Lads Curfew was well supported after a mishap last week ($8 to $6) and he put it all together here to sit outside the leader and win well. He took over on straightening but had to kick away on the leader to hold off the fast finish of Hirvonen and he did it in good style. Being by Ladoni he looks a slow maturing type but on this effort he looks to have come on this prep and can be competitive going into C1 grade.
Hirvonen had his first run for John Luttrell here and went super, rattling home from the back in the 3rd fastest last 800m of the night. His pattern has made it hard for him to break his maiden but there is definitely a win in him on that effort. Cimarron’s Hero enjoyed a good run but battled on alright into 3rd, just ahead of the leader Gee Gee Pureblonde who had every chance. Epidexious was a heavily backed favourite ($4.60 to $2.40) but after getting into a reasonable spot he was very one paced to the line and is looking for the longer trips already.
Race 3 7:25pm Murray Pyke Fillies & Mares Maiden (1200m)
Cheap Trick and Havadable led at a good clip here with Pura Vida easing out of the speed battle to sit just behind them. The tempo backed off down the side which suited those back in the field who were able to pick up ground down the side. The overall time was very similar to the previous race but had more merit with the mid-race anchor drop.
Pelagia has been testing the patience of punters but they buttered up again here ($4.20 to $3) and were finally rewarded. The blinkers went on here and she travelled into the race better than she ever has, picking up plenty of ground down the side without doing much work to be within striking distance on the turn. Her sectionals from the 800m were clearly the best of the night and she ran right through the line to win by a margin in the end. With the blinkers on she looks a much better horse and can be immediately competitive in C1 company on this run.
Aljazmic was given a good run back on the inside and she found the line well, running the 6th fastest last 200m of the meeting to get into 2nd right on the line. Cheap Trick led and did enough to hang on to 3rd ahead of Pura Vida who was again given a good run but wasn’t quite up to the first few. Lovely Lady was a firm $2.60 favourite but never appeared happy in the run and she didn’t finish off. Her effort can be forgiven to a degree as she gets up in trip.
Race 4 8:00pm Mercure Hotel Launceston Class 3 Handicap (1400m)
Welcome Invader held the lead from the inside draw with Secrets She Has outside him in very slow time to the 800m mark. Catania picked up the tempo on Secrets She Has down the side which put the speed into the race and after the cheap early section the first four in the run were the first four home. Overall time was very poor so there is a doubt over the reliability of this form.
Strathalbyn was another well supported winner, firming from $7 to start $4.60. He was given a great ride by Muhcu, landing behind the leader and then getting a gap to its outside in the straight to work through and pick them up late to score. With the slow tempo he was required to run home in slick time to win and did so with the 3rd fastest last 600m of the night. He is still eligible for this grade so his improved tactical speed should see him remain very competitive in the near future.
Welcome Invader had every chance in front but arguably went too slow, resulting in Secrets She Has attacking him down the side and Strathalbyn out sprinting him in the straight. His run was still full of merit off a short break and he should be hard to beat next time out. Secrets She Has died on her run after challenging a long way from home, while Commanding Dash was thereabouts but doesn’t quite get this trip? Princess Atilla ran home to be best of the backmarkers while Must Be Love was able to reel off the 6th fastest last 400m and 200m splits of the night.
Minute Repeater worked around the field to take up the running ahead of Blaze Forth, with Silver Bolt slotting in behind for the trail. The speed was initially strong but the pace went right out of the race down the side which suited those able to pick up ground doing no work. The overall time was plain for this grade, due to the slow mid-race section, but the late sectionals were decent.
Silver Bolt continued the trend of well-backed winners, firming from $3.30 to start the clear $2.70 favourite. He landed in a lovely spot trailing the leaders and Muhcu was able to pop out to move into the race when the speed went out. He was challenged strongly in the straight but continued to find the line, dispelling any doubts over his ability at 1400m. This win just confirms his ability at this level, and having the capability to win over this distance does provide him with more options going forward.
Demons Run was an excellent run fresh here and arguably should have won had he obtained a clear run on straightening. Geegees Soprano ($3 to $4.40) loomed on straightening after travelling into the race strongly down the side, but died on his run as he often can at 1400m and had to settle for 3rd. Blaze Forth was another well supported runner ($4.60 to $3.80) but was no match for the placegetters sweeping past him on the turn.
Race 6 9:00pm Tasmanian St Leger Sunday 21st May Benchmark 62 Handicap (1600m)
Flash Missile found the lead very easily in a race with no pressure early and she controlled the race from the front. The overall time was plain for this grade but this reflected the soft speed early.
Flash Missile had every possible chance in front here and was never in any real danger thanks to a well-rated ride by Carr. After getting away with a soft early section, she was able to increase the tempo gradually down the side, denying her rivals the chance to get into the race cheaply. Being able to do that under her own steam, she was still full of running in the straight and ran through the line in a very comfortable win. Having such a good time of it in front is going to be rare going forward so it will be worth seeing how she responds in a stronger run race, but being a 3yo she does look to have a bit of scope for the future.
Golden Kiss was able to settle closer than usual thanks to the tempo but after looming on turning she was no match for the winner. Kompressor also settled much closer than he usually does but after pushing wide on turning he made no real impression. Toakio Tower wasn’t bad, while Don Reggio was plain after having every chance sitting 2nd in the run. Olly’s A Star was well supported ($7 to $5) but had little chance the way the race was run and will improve off this.
The pressure was right on here with Chelsarli forced to go very quickly to cross the field from her wide draw, with Astro Miss handing up to sit 2nd and Cuban Missile left to sit three-wide in 3rd. Those back in the field made their runs wide down the side so the pressure stayed on pretty much throughout, resulting in a good overall time for this grade.
Cuban Missile ($4.60 to $5.50) had to do it tough here racing wide without cover but he was very strong to the line in what was an excellent win. Sitting wide may not have been quite the disadvantage it usually would be by this stage of the night, but he was still able to ride the fast tempo and hold off Charlemagne’s Girl who had the sit behind him. He is a very consistent horse around this grade and has often had to deal with hard runs, so this was a deserved win.
Charlemagne’s Girl was well ridden by Muhcu and was there to challenge at the right time but just couldn’t pick up the winner, while Chelsarli battled away alright to hold 3rd after leading. Qui Samer found himself at the tail early and put in a sharp move down the side to get into the race, so his effort to keep finding the line was good and he recorded the 4th fastest last 800m of the race. Astro Miss was sent out the $4.20 favourite but after sitting 2nd she was the first horse beaten.
Meteor Strike had to go quickly early to retain the lead from the inside draw with Westerly Haze up outside him and these two led clearly in the early stages. The speed backed off through the middle stages which gave the backmarkers their chance to pick up ground. Overall time was only plain but somewhat reflective of the slower middle section and the inside ground deteriorating.
Almost Art ($6) backed up off a very good 2nd last week and went on with the job here to score a long overdue win. She was forced to race wide off the speed but as Cuban Missile showed in the previous it wasn’t the worst place to be, and Thornton was able to pick up a lot of ground down the side while under a hold which was key to the win. She ran the 7th fastest last 800m of the night and has continued to improve this preparation after they decided to ride her a little quieter early. She can remain competitive as she goes up a grade.
Mariah’s Magic got a nice run through from back in the field and looked a big danger at the top of the straight but she just found the winner too strong. Westerly Haze ran well in 3rd, while Meteor Strike battled down on the inside with Ganderton noting he didn’t handle the shifty ground.