Richard Cully: great ride on Searaven.
Picturesque Casterton hosts three good jumps races this Saturday, with the maiden hurdle perhaps drawing most interest.
Several contenders have shown up at the trials, among them Symon Wilde’s Manhattan Gangster, who looks to me to have a bright future over obstacles.
He’d be my selection to kick things off with a victory but expect strong opposition from stablemate and dual trial winner Bean Trac.
Jarrod McLean has two promising types in Elveson and Last Wish. Elveson did a bit wrong but still won his first trial by 15 lengths, then improved his jumping manners in a second hitout (at Warrnambool on June 21).
Last Wish makes his hurdling debut following a couple of good recent flat runs.
Of those we have seen race, the Kathryn Durden-trained Comics is likely to have derived benefit from his second to Jamieson at his hurdling debut over this (Casterton) course and distance on June 4.
I’ll be represented in the race by My Four Oh Nine, who was a bit disappointing at his ’chasing debut last start and would need everything to go right (including a track rating in the slow 7 range).
Coyne hard to toss
In the benchmark 120 hurdle, Mr Coyne appeals as a top chance.
He has shown a liking for the tight Casterton circuit. He finished runner-up to Ascot Red there late last season and on his return to the venue on June 4 he defeated Joshua Reynolds in the fastest of the three hurdles on that program.
Joshua Reynolds went on to finish second in a race at Warrnambool on June 20.
Simon Ryan’s Super Haze is sure to be competitive again this weekend. He has fought on well for second at his past two, following a narrow maiden victory last month.
Best of the rest looks to be Symon Wilde’s Danzadoozie, who raced below his best last start.
The steeplechase races at Casterton this season have been great spectacles. Expect another on Saturday.
Patrick Payne’s Speedy Jax loves the circuit and backs up after a poor performance (last of eight) in the South Australian Grand National Steeplechase last Saturday.
He got too far back in a strangely run race. He’ll improve sharply back to Casterton, where he has won twice this prep.
His biggest danger could be one of the runners part owned by Australian Jumps Racing Association chairman Sandy McGregor.
Sandy has a share in Police Camp and He’s a Genius and both look winning prospects.
I have Unabashed, Ebazan, Historic and Mapping in the race. Of those, Unabashed is always competitive while I expect Historic to turn in an improved run.
Cunning Cully gets the job done
Morphettville hosted two exciting jumps races last Saturday — South Australia’s Grand National Steeple and Grand National Hurdle.
The steeple produced a good result for the locals, with Barry Brook’s Searaven brilliantly ridden to victory by Richard Cully.
Cully turned it into a stop-start affair, ensuring nothing behind him got into any sort of rhythm.
Runner-up Who Says I’m Ready loomed up to win but couldn’t stay with Searaven in the dash home.
The Grand National Hurdle had plenty of action early with Euroman and Double Bluff both pushing forward.
That early pressure seemed to unsettle Euroman. He took off too early at the third obstacle, hit the top of it and stumbled on landing. Rider Jarrod Lynch had to call on all his skills (he’s a former rodeo rider) to stay aboard but the race was over for Euroman.
With his main danger out of the contest, Double Bluff was able to control the race and he scored a strong victory. He is progressing nicely and looks a genuine chance in the Victorian feature hurdles coming up.
The Grand National Hurdle ($250,000, 4200m) on August 4 at Ladbrokes Park should be his main target.
Join John at lunch
Author and well known jumps identity John Adams is organising a “former jumps jockeys reunion” to be held at the Caulfield Tabaret from 12.30pm on Saturday, July 20.
John can be contacted on 0408 034 794 for all the details.