Back home to racing in the western district on Sunday with a return to the live hedges and open country at Casterton for the penultimate jumps meeting in Victoria this year.
The track is currently rated a Heavy 8 with a penotrometer of 6.62, and with the weather we’ve had in the south west over the last 24 hours combined with the forecast for the next couple of days I can’t see that rating improving, in fact it may even be a little on the heavier side come race day.
Race 1 – Open Hurdle 3480m
A small field but I reckon any of four acceptors could win and wouldn’t surprise me. Going with the 5 Shez Ektraordinary, the relatively fresh jumper on the scene, to win. She handles the heavy ground and was very strong at the finish winning her Maiden Hurdle at Ballarat on a Heavy 10 and the extra 80 metres will only help. Her flat form before that win was very sound and she’s been kept up to the mark since Ballarat with a recent flat trial at Cranbourne. The Laming stable have had a very successful last couple of months with their jumpers and that run can continue here.
5 Shez Ektraordinary
Race 2 – Maiden Hurdle 3480m
Anything outside the top 3 would surprise me. The 1 Cougar Express is due and can break his duck over the jumps here. In the very experienced jumps stable of Jarrod McLean and to be ridden by Braidon Small who claims 1.5kg, taking over from Brad McLean, this is his race. He was a very good 2nd to Refectory in a strong Maiden Hurdle at Bendigo, before being well beaten when 2nd again over the hurdles behind the very impressive Dane Hussler at Ballarat recently on the heavy. The jumps racing experience will help and that race form is good enough to win this. The claim is a bonus in a race where a few rivals have also claimed!
1 Cougar Express
Race 3 – Maiden Hurdle 3480m
The more open of the two Maiden Hurdles in my opinion. Going with the 10 Silent Interest to win here after her solid first up 2nd over the jumps behind Shez Ektraordinary at Ballarat, which she followed up with strong performance on the flat at Bendigo last week. Seemed to handle the heavy OK at Ballarat, the Clangalang progeny generally do, and I think she can get into the winners circle here for jockey Lee Horner, who has started this jumps season in good riding form. Outside of her, there are a few chances in this race with the 4 Fulgur an interesting runner from the Ciaron Maher stable, but after being eased out of the race at his jumps debut at Ballarat he would need to improve significantly here, even though this doesn’t appear as strong a field as he met at Ballarat. The 3 Cheryl’s Horse for Paddy Payne is also an interesting runner and it would pay to keep a watchful eye on the market for any lead in regards to the chances of these two runners.
10 Silent Interest
Race 5 – Open Steeplechase 3800m
The winning streak of Dormello Mo came to a halt last start in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat. After hitting the front with about 1000m to go and looking to be travelling, he couldn’t go on with it in that much stronger class. Back to a course he really appreciates here he can return to the winning list. My only concern is whether he has come to the end of his preparation, but I’m sure if there were any sign of that Simon Ryan wouldn’t be running him. While he’s got his fair share of weight in this, he did carry 72kg here after the claim for Braidon Small two starts ago and beat stronger opposition that day, with Lucky Tonight and King Of The Forest filling the placings then. After the claim here he’ll carry 74kg conceding between 10kg and 13 kg to his rivals and he mightn’t get it all his own way in front as I expect the 5 Mister Zao to be up on the pace also here (a recent change of stables to Aaron Purcell at Warrnambool is worth noting) and he also has the 1.5kg claim for Lee Horner. Surging Wave from the Steven Pateman stable and with the 3kg claim for Clayton Douglas receives 13 kg’s off Dormello Mo and will also be a danger. He trialled quietly here at Casterton over the fences back in mid July.
Dormello Mo has been a star here at Casterton this season though, with his on pace style of racing and magnificent jumping and I think he’ll be too good here, even at the weights and win again. And in my opinion, from a jumping industry interest point of view, that would be great to see
1 Dormello Mo
Best each way on the flat
race 7 – 5 Jocka’s Truce
This fella has generated a bit of a following in the south west with his impressive first start win in Maiden class at Coleraine a month ago, when he ran on strongly to win narrowly over Hot Hussler, for comeback jockey Stan Tsaikos and Hamilton trainer Allan Clark. He followed that up with a nice 2nd behind Rain Fast at Warrnambool a couple of weeks later over 1100m on a Heavy 10. A couple of higher raters in this with claims at the top of the weights and the 4 Bryan who was a nice run in that same Warrnambool race make it interesting. But from the nice draw, Jocka’s Truce can race in the first half dozen here and be right in the finish at each way odds.
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Good luck and good punting everybody!