The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Clinton McDonald’s local Mossman four-year-old Second Effort is back at Caulfield this Saturday shooting for their fifth win on the trot, connections wary that the track conditions won’t be ideal for their horse to score Bletchingly Stakes victory.
The final black-type race of the 2010/11 racing season, the $125,000 Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) attracted a final field of 10 gallopers, many of which came via the Listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago.
While Monash Stakes’ winner Secret Flyer, runner-up Rue Maple and others including Stanzout (fourth), Gold Trail (fifth) and Uxorious (sixth) are all back at Caulfield to contest the Bletchingly, Second Effort was a late scratching from the Monash.
Their most recent run, then, was a big two and a half length victory at Moonee Valley in the Cafetto Sprint (1200m) on June 18.
That was Second Effort’s fourth straight win around Victoria, McDonald looking for the gelding to step up to stakes company for the first time on Saturday and continue their winning streak stating that despite the break between runs they were still in top form.
“He’s in good form,” McDonald said.
“I’m happy with the horse.
“He had a little hiccup (Sir John Monash Stakes scratching) but it didn’t dent any of his fitness having to scratch him.”
McDonald made the decision to bypass the Sir John Monash as the course proper was rated Dead and Second Effort is a known wet-tracker having won all six of their starts on Slow – Heavy ground.
And it seems the wetter the better for the mudlark, Second Effort having put four lengths on their closest rival at Sandown Lakeside on a Heavy track back in May.
Still, despite favouring a rain-affected track, Second Effort has proven handy in all conditions recording four minor placings on Good – Dead going.
On Thursday Caulfield was rated a Dead (5), which may not be ideal but there is still hope as Second Effort has run second in two of their three starts in these conditions.
“Our biggest problem is we’re in the middle of winter and we’re racing on good tracks which is quite amazing really,” McDonald said.
“He’s run two seconds on dead tracks so it’s not like he’s hopeless, but when he runs on a heavy track it’s just like he’s running on a good track.
“He’s just so effective on heavy or slow ground.
“In saying that it’s going to be a good test for him and an up-and-comer such as Mid Summer Music.
“It’s not a true weight-for-age race though is it?
“They are probably 10 good gallopers who get their chance in a nice race.”
Bletchingly Stakes markets are currently lead by clear $2.90 favourite Mid Summer Music from the stables of Peter Moody, while evergreen veteran Secret Flyer is the $5 second elect.
Second Effort occupies the next line of betting paying $8, the consistent sprinter drawn in barrier seven and due to be ridden by Danny Nikolic.
“I’m happy with his work,” McDonald said.
“He’s fit and healthy and ready to go and I think he’ll run very well.”
McDonald is vying for his second success in the Caulfield feature having prepared 2005 Bletchingly Stakes winner Regal Roller, a three-time elite level champion having taken out that year’s Futurity Stakes as well as the 2004 Toorak Handicap and Dubai Racing Club Cup.
As well as Second Effort, McDonald will also be represented in this year’s Bletchingly Stakes field by his promising Al Maher mare Lady Mahler.
A winner of three of her nine career starts to date, four-year-old Lady Mahler is seeking her third straight turf triumph most recently recording a narrow victory over 1100 metres at Caulfield on July 16.
Lady Mahler will have the inside running from barrier one, Craig Newitt engaged to ride the $26 outsider.
Despite her nice recent record, McDonald said Lady Mahler was currently working through a few issues and was realistic about his chances with her in the Bletchingly.
“I’ve been put in a bit of a tough spot with her,” he said.
“She’s such a gross mare and she’s got a few issues.
“I’d rather race her than gallop her on the training track.
“If I don’t run her on Saturday it’ll be a month between runs which is too long for her.
“She’ll run in the Bletchingly and then go to the Cockram Stakes.
“We’ve got nothing to lose in running her Saturday.
“If she runs a place it will add to her value as a broodmare and she’ll also gain fitness for the Cockram.”
The $125,000 Group 3 WW Cockram Stakes (1200m) runs at Caulfield on Saturday August 13, the meeting also featuring a race named after McDonald’s Regal Roller, the $100,000 Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m).
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