Racing: Favourite's scratching scuttles contest

By Mike Dillon

Mongolian Falcon wins easily at Matamata on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell
Mongolian Falcon wins easily at Matamata on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell

You were robbed if you were on Mongolian Falcon at Matamata when Smart 'N' Sassy was scratched at the barrier after flipping over backwards.

Robbed when Mongolian Falcon dropped in from $3 to $1.30 and robbed of what would have been the contest of the day on a remarkably good day of contests.

But on this occasion the correct decision was made, even if our racing has become over-sensitive in late scratching horses at the barrier.

"Better safe than sorry," is the opinion of co-trainer Jamie Richards after the unbeaten Smart 'N' Sassy reared and fell backwards.

But the momentary lapse may still not cost the two-from-two filly her place in the Matamata Breeders Stakes on February 27, even though she has to satisfactorily trial in front of stewards before next racing.

"She's a real lamb at home," says Richards, "but something clicks when she sees the starting stalls on raceday.

"What put us behind the eight ball was the Te Aroha barrier trials being cancelled. If she'd gone there we would have known what we had to deal with and we could have had time to deal with it. She got away with it in two starts at Riccarton."

Smart 'N' Sassy will get her opportunity to barrier trial at Matamata on February 9. "If all goes to plan she will then start next in the Matamata Breeders," says Richards.

Mongolian Falcon is a super colt and would have given the favourite a great challenge. Unlike when he was checked back early on debut at Ellerslie, the colt this time jumped in front from the No1 barrier and dictated. Although still unsure what he was about coming down the home straight, he won with something to spare.

Donna Logan said at yesterday's New Zealand Bloodstock Festival sale at Karaka the colt had pulled up a bit tender in the legs after racing on what was a firmish surface. "At least we can take him straight to Matamata (on the 29th) now without having to race at Te Rapa," said Logan.

For a green colt having his first long trip away from home and his first try at racing left-handed, it was an accomplished performance.

Te Akau along with Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards had better luck in the juvenile race at Trentham, winning with debut runner Heroic Valour.

The $400,000 purchase a year ago raced greenly, but that is not unusual for a youngster having its first start down Trentham's dog-leg chute with no markers across the crossing at the 430m.

The first piece of advice Richards gave Matt Cameron when he legged him up on the handsome colt was: "It would be important to find him some cover coming over the junction."

That was achieved and once he got closer to a rail again in the home straight, Heroic Valour worked his way to a stylish victory.

Te Akau's David Ellis paid $510,000 for an almost identical brother at Tuesday's Premier session at Karaka.

Lewis Caroll, Matimba and In Style were among the impressive winners at Matamata.

- NZ Herald

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