Mineshaft Handicap – Grade III
FG Race #10 1 1/16m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $150.000 For Four Year Olds And Upward.
1 Big Puppin, trained by Fractious
This five year old has been pretty consistent at overnight level winning five and placing in nine. His last start at the end of December saw a powerful all the way win in a sizzling winning time at SA and whilst he has no experience at this level bottom weight and a kind draw put him right in the mix.
2 Ocean Cookie, trained by Aml Racing
As the proven class in the race he gets lumbered by top weight but with only three pounds top to bottom it shouldnt be a deal breaker. A winner of nine including this race last year he also ran third in the Metropolitan stakes and a very nice fourth in the BC Mile. This trip tends to be a bit sharp for him and he will need to keep up early on but a good draw will help and a nice work last time puts him in with a good chance of a double.
3 Diplomatic Envoy, trained by D J C Racing Stables
He broke his maiden as a three year old and then ran a few decent races in lesser company suggesting he was going to be a later bloomer. He had the weights in his favor but could only finihs second in the Say Florida Sandy on seasonal debut and whilst he is a fair sort who works very strongly i am dubious about his winning chances today unless it comes up muddy.
4 Dogs Noah, trained by Maxmillion Farm
The trainer is better known for his turf superstars but takes a punt in this race with a lightly raced four year old. Bought from Australia Wide after a debut maiden win he was sent to the turf but though he ran well he didnt really make his mark on that surface. At the end of last year he was switched back to dirt to win a GP allowance making it two from two on this surface but couldnt keep the record on his seasonal debut when a bit one paced in finishing fourth at SA. This is his first try in this company and with bottom weight i think he may surprise a few.
5 Bondi Chai, trained by Nakamura Stables
This four year old has only raced seven times winning three including the LA Stakes on his seasonal debut. He has been pretty consistent so far and is working like a horse who can win this type of race and i would definitely be putting him in my top three.
6 Well Proven, trained by Mb Stables
Unlike his name he is not quite proven especially in this type of company. He won three in a row last year and was beginning to look like another stakes winner for the stable but he has been a little disappointing since. Just like all the others in his yard he seems to be able to work crazy quick times but like a few of the others he hasnt been able to put that onto the track as yet. If he runs up to his 1.36 and 1 work three weeks ago he would win by a few lengths but his ability to put that into a race needs to be taken on trust.
7 Irish Flu, trained by Sanny Village
The stable took most of last year off so like one last week that ran in a handicap Irish Flu gets bottom weight thanks mainly to the gap since his last stakes win. A winner of two grade ones he has had most success on the turf but has also won graded stakes on the dirt so that shouldnt be seen as a negative. Now an eight year old he showed his well being with an open allowance win at FG after well over a year off and if he is anything near his best he should win this as he likes.
8 Copper Opus, trained by Big Guns Stables
He was a very good three year old running in the KYD and placing third in the grade one Haskell. Since then he hasnt been bad he just seemed to stop improving although many good three’s struggle as a four year old so we could put his ‘levelling’ out down to that. He won a couple of ungraded stakes at the end of last year and didnt run badly on seasonal debut so its clear he still has ability but the eight draw will make it awkward for him when he will need to be at his best to win. Works are in the ball park so he must be given a shot.
Three class horses in Copper Opus, Irish Flu and Ocean Cookie, a couple of fast allowance types and an Mb runner than can work like a grade one winner but doesnt have the form to back it up……just another days racing at HRP!
As for the winner, well off bottom weight Irish Flu may take some beating but second up is always iffy and Bondi Chai may just spoil the party.