High hopes of hoodoo’s end
THOROUGHBRED trainer Glenn Stevenson is hungry for a feature race winner and in Launceston tonight he is banking on star sprinter I’m Wesley to achieve the feat.
In fact, Stevenson will take a two-pronged attack into the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) with rising star Killin Falls also entered.
But I’m Wesley is his best chance to break a feature race hoodoo that has prevented the talented horseman celebrating in the winner’s circle of a Listed or Group event.
The Newmarket is a Listed race worth $100,000 and Stevenson is quietly confident his six-year-old is up to the task, especially after the gelding smashed the 1200m track record at his most recent start two weeks ago.
I’m Wesley has won his past four starts and none better than his most recent in Launceston, running the 1200m in a sizzling 1m.08.5s.
“I’ve had the Newmarket pencilled in for this horse since he won a race at Spreyton earlier this year,” Stevenson said.
“But after he broke the track record two weeks ago and carved over a second off Hellova Street’s record I must admit I started to think winning a Newmarket was very much a realistic goal.
“The horse has had some issues with his feet and only last week we had to repack his off-hind hoof with Equilox [specially manufactured hoof filler] but he is as sound as a bell and will go into the Newmarket at his top.”
Killin Falls has been the quiet achiever of the stable, moving through the grades without too much fuss.
“Killin Falls is no slouch and I believe he deserves his place in the Newmarket field,” the trainer said.
“He will get back in the field but there won’t be a horse running home as hard as he him.
“The Devonport Cup is Killin Falls’ main mission but he still can’t be discarded [tonight].”
Both of Stevenson’s Newmarket contenders are carrying the minimum, 54kg.
The Scott Brunton-trained Lord Da Vinci has earned the right to be top weight, carrying 58.5kg, but if he is at his best the seven-year-old gelding should be too good for his rivals.
At his first start in Tasmania this season he finished a brave third to O’Lonh Star in the Goodwood Handicap in Hobart (1100m) three weeks ago.
But it is his interstate form that rates him higher than his opposition tonight.
Two starts back Lord Da Vinci won a $100,000 Open Handicap at Moonee Valley before finishing a game fifth at Caulfield, beaten 5¾ lengths, behind Group winners Vega Magic and Santa Anna Lane, who was only a length ahead of Brunton’s gelding in the Regal Roller.
Lord Da Vinci spent the past two days wading in the salt water at Seven Mile Beach alongside stable pony Watson and Brunton is quietly confident the gelded son of Lonhro can give him his third Newmarket in the space of four years.