Day At The Track

$100,000 Group One Ubet SA Pacing Cup

08:40 PM 12 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Major Crocker, harness racing
Michael Bellman seen here urging Major Crocker to victory in the Blakes A Fake Free For All.
Stuart McCormick Photo

Top Victorian harness racing reinsman Michael Bellman will be reunited with local hope Major Crocker in Saturday’s $100,000 Group One Ubet South Australian Cup (2645m) at Globe Derby Park.

Bellman has had two wins, including the Blacks A Fake Free For All at Melton, on Major Crocker from just five drives on the Justin Brewin-trained pacer.

The seven-year-old Grand Circuit pacer had his first run for Brewin at Globe Derby Park last Saturday and scored a game photo-finish win.

He will come a tough gate 11 on Saturday in the Cup and has been listed a $31 chance to take out the state’s premier event.

The reason he is such good odds is the fact that the brilliant Emma Stewart-trained pacer Shadow Sax has been installed a $1.30 in Ubet markets.

Shadow Sax, a winner of his last six starts, is number five but likely will start from gate four as the emergency, Duke Of Albany, is number four. Champion reinsman Gavin Lang will be in the sulky.

For Stewart and Lang, they will be looking for their second SA Cup win having been successful with Guaranteed in 2015.

Shadow Sax has good gate speed and it is expected the five-year-old will find the lead without too much trouble, and once in front, Lang will dictate the race.

Lang said in an ideal world he could find the front on Shadow Sax.

“He is a nice horse who has made the step up from his juvenile seasons,” Lang said.

“He had an extended time on the sidelines and it might have worked in his favour as he has come back a nice horse.”

Shadow Sax has won the Stawell and Geelong Cups at his most recent runs and Lang believes he has the potential to make it to Grand Circuit level.

“One thing I have learned over time is in feature races always expect the unexpected.

“Shadow Sax is a really nice horse on the way up, but horses such as Messini and Major Crocker have race well in top company and, despite their draws, have to be respected.

“My horse has had the draws at his past two starts, and is well drawn again, so I’m thinking he will have a chance of leading again but I’m sure he is not one dimensional and will be able to peel off a good sprint with a sit.”

The query to whether Shadow Sax has an easy lead could be the Jess Tubbs-trained Sams The Master which will come from gate three and has some gate speed but has also has a tendency to race keenly if fired up early.

Cup market: $1.30 Shadow Sax; $5.50 Tee Cee Bee Macray; $6.50 Sams The Master; $11 Messini; $21 Our Jericho; $31 Major Crocker; $41 Lets Elope; $71 Futurist; $81 Bettor Party; $101 Lookofalegend, Whenmechief; $201 Duke Of Albany.

Lang will be looking for his third win in the $30,000 Group 3 SA BOTRA South Australian Derby (2230m) when he partners the unbeaten Yankee Roller which will be seeking to give trainer Emma Stewart her first win in the classic.

The champion reinsman was successful on The Sentry (2004) for Grant Crane, then again in 2008 on Maffioso for Peter Tonkin, father of Stewart’s partner Clayton.

“Yankee Roller is a nice horse and Saturday will be a good chance for him to prove his quality,” Lang said.

“Emma has a strong group of three-year-olds and I’m not sure where Yankee Roller is in the pecking order, but he can’t do any more than he has done.

“He might not have raced since mid-September, but he has been ready to race but a few events had fallen away. He has trialled and while he will be better for the run has certainly done enough to run well.”

Victorian trainer-driver Phillip Walters is looking forward to the Derby with former New Zealand three-year-old The Brooklyn Brawler.

“We chased him for about four months before finalizing the sale,” Walters said. “We bought him for the Derbies in Australia and Saturday is his first chance.

“He is a three-year-old which only does as much as he wants but I will be putting him into the race at some stage.”

The Brooklyn Brawler had his first start for Walters at Melton on December 11 and led throughout to win comfortably.

At his last start in New Zealand, the gelding sat parked over 1950 metres at Addington on Cup day and fought on strongly to win in a photo.

SA Derby market: $1.50 Yankee Roller; $3.80 The Brooklyn Brawler; $9 Muscle Up Major; $11 No Alabi; $17 Don’t Tell William; $31 The Quick Shadow, Bulletproof Boy, Fruitdrops; $34 Our Front Page; $71 Culzean Castle, Clarenden Valour; $101 The Deal.

Walters will be hoping for a training double as he prepares Daquiri, one of the best chances, in the $30,000 Group 2 Ubet SA Trotters Cup (2645m).

“He is generally a very good beginner from the stand and I’m hoping he will be prominent throughout,” Walters said.

“He is a free-going trotter and if he does lead will give them something to chase.”

Daquiri will be driven by Austin Mifsud who has won two races on him.

Daquiri has been in the Walters stable for six months and the trainer believes he is square gaiter on the improve.

“A few people think he might be a query at the trip but I’m sure he will be fine and is getting stronger every time he goes to the track.”

SA trotters have won two of the past three Cup with Rejuvenation successful in 2015 and Pocketfullofcash scoring last year.

They are engaged again this year, but it might be the Greg Norman-trained Al Bundy which could be the state’s best chance.

With a massive lift in handicaps, Al Bundy, to be driven by Greg Sugars, should be prominent early and he will have no worries with the trip.

Norman also has the talented mare Rocknroll Baby engaged from gate one with Jock Dunlop to drive.

The mare is giving away years of experience to her rivals but Norman and Dunlop both say the mare is capable of matching Al Bundy in trackwork.

Ubet Trotters Cup market: $3.50 Daquiri; $4.20 Al Bundy, Our Twentyten; $6 Rocknroll Baby; $7 Al Paco; $10 Aintthatrightmacca; $26 Rejuvenation; $34 Emma Deville, Aldebaran Ten; $41 Hudson Law, Stuey D, Pocketfullofcash; $51 Bold Law.

Read form expert Ben Harding’s thoughts on the Ubet SA Cup meeting at where he has form analysis and selections for the nine-race meeting at Globe Derby Park.

Graham Fischer

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