Day At The Track

Son of Major In Art can step up

10:39 AM 04 Jun 2015 NZST
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The Culture and Matthew Craven.
The Culture and Matthew Craven.
Reigning Victoria Derby champion Menin Gate takes on rising stars Chief Safari, Jilliby Royal and The Culture at the harness racing meeeting at Ballarat tonight as the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series 3YO Colts and Geldings section gets under way.
 
Rounding out the six-horse field in tonight's heat are handy pacers Justbritell and Jodis Choice, the race a tantalising puzzle for punters to piece together.
 
Trainer/driver Matthew Craven believes his son of Major In Art/Henin Hardenne, The Culture, has a big future and can play a huge role in the Super Series.
 
But Craven added that tonight is very much only a small step in a bigger Vicbred journey. And he’s not going in overly confident by any stretch.
 
“To me he didn’t do anything brilliant (first-up at Hamilton) but it was good he got the job done,” Craven said.
 
“To be honest he’s probably not as wound up as I’d like. He’s drawn gate seven … it’s going to be hard.
 
“I’m going to have to take him back off the gate at the start because he can’t be up over-racing outside horses of that calibre at this stage.
 
“Menin Gate and Jilliby Royal have had Derby preparations
 
Class carried The Culture home at Hamilton on May 20 in a C1 over 2160m, defeating Royal Safari by 1.1m.
 
The Culture twice beat home Burnaholeinmypocket earlier this year, form that reads well given that horse went on to run fourth in the New Zealand Harness Jewels.
 
But Menin Gate is the horse to beat, no doubt, the Larry Eastman-trained gelding by Somebeachsomewhere out of Dreams Of Heaven a winner of seven of his 10 starts, finishing second on the three other occasions.
 
Menin Gate is coming off a thrilling second at Ballarat in the Colin and Heather Holloway 3YO Classic when beaten a short half-head by My Kiwi Mate in 1:53.7 over a mile.
 
Jilliby Gate was involved in an early battle for the front in that race, which produced a blistering opening stanza of 26.8secs.
 
Show Me The Bling, who went stride for stride with Jilliby Royal through that early burn finished sixth beaten 34.2m while Glen Craven’s horse battled on strongly to be beaten six metres.
 
Driver Kerryn Manning gets the Terry Young-trained son of Courage Under Fire/Soho Artemis, Justbritell, out very swiftly and she’ll again be holding a forward spot here from gate one.
 
Michael Stanley has his team firing on all cylinders and he’s also got an exciting proposition here in Chief Safari – by Safari out of Podium Princess.
 
Chief Safari won his first three starts in style before a first-up second to Mrs Devine this time in after punching the breeze throughout.
 
Jodis Choice is from the Craig Demmler camp at Parwan and will be driven by Jodi Quinlan. The colt by Four Starzzz Shark out of Petousa is coming off a 1:58.6 win at Maryborough from barrier seven.
 
Odds setter Ben Krahe has priced Menin Gate at $1.5 favourite from Jilliby Royal at $4.5, with Jodis Choice and The Culture on the next line at $6.5. Justbritell and Chief Safari are $12 outsiders.
 
CODY WINNELL
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