Strike rate sec­ond to none

Matamata Chronicle - - News - DEN­NIS RYAN Rac­ing colum­nist

There’s no stop­ping Mata­mata trainer Peter McKay, who con­tin­ued his fan­tas­tic run of early sum­mer form with an­other two wins on the first day of the New Zealand Cup car­ni­val at Ric­car­ton last Satur­day.

Two weeks ear­lier at the same venue McKay had sad­dled up his sec­ond four-win bag in a day and this time it was the turn of an­other two mem­bers of the Mon­tego Lodge team, Vin­cent Mangano and Mar­cello, to chip in with win­ning per­for­mances. The dou­ble took his tally for the sea­son thus far to 17, plac­ing him sec­ond equal on the train­ers’ premier­ship and out on his own on the strike-rate ta­ble.

Re­mark­ably, those 17 wins have come from just 52 starters, which trans­lates to one win in just over three starts. McKay is also the equal best in the coun­try with three black-type fea­ture wins.

The most pleas­ing as­pect of McKay’s week­end brace was the re­turn to form by Vin­cent Mangano, who had thrown out a pointer when sec­ond at Hast­ings in a pre­vi­ous start and on Satur­day turned in a mas­sive home-straight burst to come from last and win the 1000m Pe­ga­sus Stakes. The five-year-old son of No Ex­cuse Needed was one of the very best of his age at two when his wins in­cluded the coun­try’s rich­est ju­ve­nile race, the Karaka Mil­lion.

He went win­less the fol­low­ing sea­son but bounced back to form as a four-year-old, when his wins in­cluded one at last year’s New Zealand Cup car­ni­val. Given his im­pres­sive week­end per­for­mance he was a ma­jor fancy to re­peat the does to­day in the fea­ture sprint, the $100,000 Stew­ards’ Stakes.

Mar­cello, who like Vin­cent Mangano is owned as well by McKay in part­ner­ship with his wife Kim, com­pleted a dou­ble when he won a pro­gres­sive-grade 1200m event at Ric­car­ton, back­ing up from a three-year-old sprint win at Ro­torua last month.

An­other in-form lo­cal trainer to carry on his win­ning run on Satur­day was Gra­ham Richardson, who struck with fresh-up run­ner Ital­ian Princess at Te Rapa. The four-year-old mare was hav­ing her first race­day start since fin­ish­ing third in stakes com­pany at the Auck­land Cup car­ni­val in March, hav­ing been side­lined for the re­main­der of the sea­son with a knee chip.

‘‘It wasn’t a ma­jor is­sue but it had to be dealt with,’’ said Richardson, who also bred the Ber­tolini mare in part­ner­ship with cur­rent part-owner Graeme and Linda McIn­teer. ‘‘I had been happy with the way she had been com­ing up at the tri­als and it didn’t sur­prise me to see what she did on Satur­day – she’s pretty smart.’’

Rid­den con­fi­dently by Michael Cole­man, Ital­ian Princess bounced and crossed the field from a wide draw be­fore giv­ing her ri­vals a gal­lop­ing les­son and hit­ting the line well clear and in a tick un­der 1:10. To put that into con­text, it was a bet­ter time than that re­turned by Sand­blaster in his pre­vi­ous race win in the day’s fea­ture sprint.

That’s not tak­ing any­thing from that ver­sa­tile gal­loper, who is raced by his Wardville breeder Peter Setchell and trained in Te Aroha by Keith and Gavin Opie. Sand­blaster was back­ing up from a third plac­ing at Te Awa­mutu a week ear­lier and on Satur­day took his record to six wins from 26 starts.

Ital­ian Princess will be given her chance for a black-type win in the Coun­ties Bowl at Pukekohe on Satur­day week, when she will come up with her equally fleet­footed sta­ble­mate Show Up.

‘‘I don’t re­ally want to run them against each other but they both de­serve their chance at a de­cent race,’’ said their trainer.

Gra­ham’s at­ten­tion this week­end will hope­fully be cen­tred on Ric­car­ton, where he has Dadzadreamer on the bor­der­line for a start in the New Zealand Cup.

‘‘He’s 24th on the list so he should at least be in the bal­lot. Hope­fully enough drop out above him to let him scrape into the field. I’ve al­ways thought two miles (3200m) would suit, so I’m hop­ing he gets his chance.’’

The last char­ter flight from Auck­land to Christchurch will take two very sound prospects south for the day’s clas­sic fea­ture, the Gr 1 New Zealand Blood­stock. The An­drew Scott-trained Sworn To Se­crecy and Ken and Bev Kelso’s Magic Briar both looked ready for big ef­forts in the $300,000 fea­ture when they com­pleted their train­ing at home on Tues­day morn­ing.

The Moroney sta­ble has al­ready notched a three-year-old clas­sic win for the sea­son, with Brazil­ian Pulse out­class­ing her ri­vals in the Vic­to­ria Oaks at Flem­ing­ton last Thurs­day. The Cap­tain Rio filly is the stand­out amongst Aus­tralian stay­ing fil­lies, hav­ing pre­ceded her big suc­cess with a brave win in the Wake­ful Stakes at Flem­ing­ton five days ear­lier.

As well as pro­vid­ing Mike Moroney with an­other ma­jor to go with his wins in the Mel­bourne Cup with Brew and the Vic­to­ria Derby with Sec­ond Com­ing, Brazil­ian Pulse is also the lat­est sale-ring mas­ter-stroke by Mike’s brother Paul. He bought her for her Aus­tralian own­ers for just $26,000 at last year’s Na­tional Year­ling Sale and she now ranks as the 29th group win­ner he has se­lected.

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