Racing: Only bad luck can beat Sofia Rosa

By Mike Dillon

Filly has a perfect barrier draw in the $300,000 Trentham feature today.
Leith Innes will be aboard Marky Mark (left) again today in the $100,000 Wellington Guineas at Trentham. Picture / Greg Bowker
Leith Innes will be aboard Marky Mark (left) again today in the $100,000 Wellington Guineas at Trentham. Picture / Greg Bowker

Bad luck beat Phar Lap, Bonecrusher and Tulloch.

It can beat anything, but Sofia Rosa might need her fair share of it to get beaten in Saturday's $300,000 Wellfield NZ Oaks at Trentham. If you can find a negative in Sofia Rosa's form get in touch with her trainer Stephen Marsh because he can't identify one.

The tough filly has thrived since winning the Lowland Stakes, she has a perfect barrier draw and has the best 300m sprint in the race.

It is up to Danielle Johnson to eliminate bad luck from the equation and she's pretty good at it. Vespa (No5, R7) has come up a little shorter in the market than you might have thought after his last-start Otaki failure, but the pricing is probably correct. He looks suited here getting 3kg off Natuzzi (No1), most of which he will need. Natuzzi is the danger despite his 60kg.

Provided the Trentham track does not move, Marky Mark (No1, R6) should go close to his best form which includes a win in the Manawatu Sires Produce.

Things haven't exactly gone his way in two starts this preparation and this race looks an opportunity for him, particularly going back to racing against his own age.

At Te Rapa, Ryan Jim (No5, R2) might be a good opportunity early in the programme. He is on debut, but John Morell is good at getting them fit early in their campaigns. He was placed at the Cambridge barrier trials.

Few horses deserve a win more than Watch This Space (No5, R3). His seconds at his last three starts have been admirable and last time he ran into a talented Emily Monk. He has drawn nicely. Packing Tycoon (No4) sat wide last start after a bad barrier and has drawn the No 1 this time and has a 1kg claim. So too does Zoralli (No8) who has been going good races in strong fields.

Race 4 is a toughie. Triaction (No4) looks a progressive type and there's no reason he can't make it two straight. Increditable Hulk (No2) has a few tricks, but is talented.
Emily Monk (No5, R5) and Mary Quant (No6) provide a great match up. Both are heading places and this could be the feature of the meeting. Emily Monk has a huge upside and gets the nod.

Barbaric (No2, R7) loves this track and is going to get his chance to chalk up another Te Rapa victory. He comes into this well as does the underrated Alley Oop (No10), who goes reasonably well when fresh.

Turn Me Loose versus Winx in the A$1 millon George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill, what a match in Sydney.
It's a tough ask for Turn Me Loose to face off against the horse they rate Australia's best but, hey, the Kiwi is no pushover. He'll make the mare work hard.

The A$3.76 million 1200m Golden Slipper - a "dash for cash" or the world's most expensive stock car race.
History tells us both handles are appropriate. Will anyone forget Greg Hall winning the Slipper of 1996 on Merlene, scattering half the field approaching the home bend creating a scenario regarded as the worst ever in a major Australian race.

Hall, one of the toughest ever in a raceday saddle, and Merlene held the race and Hall copped flak, much of it because Merlene was owned by Crown Casino owner Lloyd Williams in partnership with Kerry Packer.

He rejected newspaper reports he received a A$200,000 'sling' from the owners for winning. Hall was suspended for two months and fined A$50,000, the maximum fine possible in Australian racing and the only time it has been used.
Stipendiary steward Ray Murrihy told Hall: "If I had the power to fine you A$61,000, I would." The $61,000 was the 5 per cent of first prizemoney to which the jockey was entitled.

Hall unsuccessfully appealed the decision, a hearing at which an improper riding charge was added and the jockey's actions described as "serious, dangerous and unfair".
A further Supreme Court appeal waived the improper riding charge.
Put millions on the line in a helter skelter taking 70 seconds and jockeys have no time to make other than split second decisions.

John Shreck is probably the toughest stipendiary steward Australia has seen. The nickname "The Sheriff" was well earned - Shreck had a handle on most things and tried bullying jockeys into behaving in a pep talk 20 minutes before the Slipper. Eight or nine years in the role the paraphrasing of what he told jockeys, "I'm not going to waste my breath, you're going to go out there and do what you like, so go for your life." There is a lot at stake - the last two winners Vancouver and Pierro, trained by Gai Waterhouse, were both syndicated for close to A$40 million.

Of course jockeys are going to take chances. They won't run it again tomorrow if you're unlucky. For this columnist the race doesn't rate alongside the Melbourne Cup.
But it's never boring.

On the subject of Ray Murrihy, Sydney racing's lawman was magnanimous over the Peter Moody cobalt charge. Amid persistent rumours over the Moody-trained Black Caviar being on cobalt, Murrihy, unsolicited and without obligation, pulled the champion mare's swabs from the archives and tested them specifically for cobalt.
All were clear. Interestingly, Victorian stewards chose not to do the same.

- NZ Herald

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