“The Hunter” meeting will be held at Newcastle this Saturday. The course proper was rated a Good 4 on Thursday and with mainly fine weather leading up to the weekend, Newcastle will be racing on a Good track on raceday.
Last start winner Fortress Command looks a top chance in the Senpos Point Of Sale Handicap (Newcastle Race 3, 1850m). The 4YO gelding has been in good form winning two races from three starts so far this campaign. Fortress Command won first-up on 7th October over 1400m before finishing 8th to eventual Golden Eagle runner-up Icebath over the Randwick mile. He won last start when came back in trip (1500m) last Saturday. Having drawn the rail (gate 1), Nash Rawiller will get a lovely run behind the leading bunch on the fence and Fortress Command will have plenty up his sleeve in the run home.
Team Hawkes-trained Surreal Step could be the knockout horse in the Guardian Safety Solutions BM72 Handicap (Newcastle Race 4, 1200m). Surreal Step contested a tough race when first-up in the Silver Eagle against oppositions like Flit and Alligator Blood and the gelding didn’t disgrace himself finishing only 2.8 lengths from the winner. The 4YO got stuck on the inside on a Heavy 10 track last start and got tired in the last bit. Dropping back to 1200m may suit as he has a good record with two wins and two placings from six attempts at the trip. Expect Surreal Step to race more tractable with blinkers off and visors on. James McDonald will go forward and sit one off one back from barrier 8. Currently at $9.50 in the fixed odds market, Surreal Step represents a good value bet.
Top weight Trumbull is a very talented horse and he is the one to beat in The Hunter (Newcastle Race 7, 1300m). The Kim Waugh-trained gelding missed the start consistently in the last preparation which costed him a few victories in the Autumn and Winter. However, the 5YO seemed to have curb the habit this campaign. First-up in the Group 3 Sydney Stakes, Trumbull jumped with the field and settled beautifully in mid-field and scored a deserved victory. Though the barrier (13) is a little tricky (into gate 10 without the emergencies), Trumbull has the class and is versatile enough to overcome the disadvantage. With reasonable pace in the race, watch Trumbull flies down the long Newcastle straight.
By Owens Wong, Editor