High hopes of hoodoo’s end

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT -

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.

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