They’re on their way. The powerful New South Wales harness racing stable of Belinda and Luke McCarthy were to the fore at Menangle on Tuesday, winning three Breeders Crown heats, and the Cobbitty yard is sure to be strongly represented at next month’s semi-finals in Victoria.
Ominous Warning captured the first race at Menangle, the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Heat 6, defeating Francisco De Gore by a half-neck in a 1:59.1 mile rate with a last quarter of 26.8 seconds and a last half of 55.1.
The son of Four Starzzz Shark found the lead easily early in the 2300m race before churning out comfortable early sectionals.
Driver Luke McCarthy got busy on Ominous Warning late in the home straight as Francisco De Gore ascended down the outside, the $1.10 favourite holding on for a narrow win over the fast-finishing $40.10 outsider.
Another few strides and the result probably went the other way, so punters won’t be sacking the second horse in a hurry.
Lettucerockthem showed in Race 2, the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings Heat 5, that he’s in seriously good form.
The son of Art Major scored an easy victory, the final 5.4m winning margin not a true indicator of the dominance with which Lettucerockthem handled Tuesday’s competition.
Luke McCarthy kept peeping over his shoulder time and again in the straight aboard Lettucerockthem to see Ideal Legacy’s driver hard at work, while the rest of the field might as well have been in another race.
Consequently, Lettucerockthem never had to leave second gear, clocking a mile rate of 1:58.3 and a last quarter of 28.4.
Flying filly Bamako Mali then gave the McCarthys a third crown heat win for the day in a blistering 1:57.9 in heat six of the two-year-old fillies’ division.
McCarthy took Bamako Mali to the front at the top of lane and she dashed clear before late challengers came from all corners in the last 50m.
The race commentator commented “she was no good thing” but as is her style Bamako Mali lifted when challenged and held on by a head over Ameretto with a similar distance to Butterfly Princess in third.
“Someone told me it was only 0.7 seconds outside the track record,” McCarthy said (Sheezallattitude holds the two-year-old fillies’ record for the 2300m start with a 1:57.2 set in 2010).
“She’s got a great will to win. The other one almost headed her. I’d say it levelled up but she fought back. She’s a great trier.”
Bamako Mali has won nine of 13 starts and been placed second or third at the other four.
On Ominous Warning McCarthy said the gelding had pulled up “a little bit sick” after his recent Breeders Challenge defeat.
“We were disappointed not to win that,” he said.
“Luckily we were able to get him right in time for yesterday.
“Ominous Warning is pretty good. He was still probably a bit underdone yesterday.”
McCarthy said Lettucerockthem was potentially in career-best form.
“He’s probably in the best form he’s been in since he was a two-year-old,” he said.
“I felt he travelled really good throughout yesterday.”
Other Breeders Crown heat winners at Menangle were Saloon Passage for Nathan Hurst in the three-year-old boys’ sixth heat, winning by 10.5m in a rate of 1:55.7, and Ocean Diva for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and driver Blake Fitzpatrick by a short half-head over Starzzzinthenight in 1:59.5 in the three-year-old fillies’ fifth heat.
By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)