In racing, just as in life, it’s all about taking the good with the bad.
There is so much upside for the winner of this Saturday night’s Group One Cordina Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle, not only the lion’s share of the $100,000 prize money, but a ‘pass to the party’ – an invitation into next weekend’s $750,000 Miracle Mile.
That’s the good, and that will be the only way the winner of the Cordina Sprint will be looking at it.
I hate being the bearer of bad news, but winning that feature sprint the week before the Mile, has been a bit of a curse.
Last year, on supposedly weary legs, Smoken Up scorched the track at Menangle in a breathtaking performance in the Cordina Sprint. The 11-year-old broke the clock, cracking the 1min.50s barrier for the second time in his career, with a 1min.49.9s effort.
That, plus a barrier one draw, catapulted Smoken Up into early favouritism for the Miracle Mile, but seven days after his Cordina success, the old stager couldn’t reproduce anywhere near his best form.
But, Trigger is not alone when it comes to backing up.
After their wins in the Sprint a week earlier, Mr Feelgood (2011) could manage only fourth, Karloo Mick (2009) third, Robin Hood (2008) seventh, Flashing Red (2004) seventh, and Seelster Sam (2002) last, just to pick out a handful.
You need to go back – way back – to 1996 and the mid-year edition of the Miracle Mile, before you can find a pacer which has won the lead-up sprint, then a week later gone on to win the big one.
That was West Australian mare Norm’s Daughter which won the Qantas Sprint, then seven days later won Australasia’s premier sprint race.
The only other time it has happened was a dozen years earlier when another veteran, Double Agent, beat Smooth Dave and Bundanoon in TAA Sprint, then a week later famously beat Bundanoon in a photo in the Miracle Mile.
This year's Cordina Sprint is set to jump at 8:35pm (AEDT). Tune in to Sky Racing for all the action!
In 2001, Smooth Satin finished second to Leftrightout in the Cordina Sprint. The directors chose to invite the runner-up instead of the winner, and Smooth Satin went on to win the Miracle Mile a week later.
But, that’s all history after all. The winning connections of this year’s Cordina Sprint will say we’re overdue for another pacer to collect the Cordina-Miracle Mile double.
And, if form and the market is a guide, that will be Shane Tritton’s Suave Stuey Lombo.
Most believe Stuey should be in the Mile, leading the field a merry dance. And most expect he will be. He is at the very skinny quote for the Cordina Sprint of $1.30 with TAB.com.au Fixed Odds.
And it’s a justified price.
Last start in the Newcastle Mile, Lauren Panella was unable to get Stuey across Queenslander Avonnova, and after a tough run outside the leader, he faded for fourth.
But glance back in Stuey’s form and you see why he’s such a short price on Saturday. His previous three starts, all at Tabcorp Park Menangle, have all been wins, and in 1min.51.3s, 1min.50.1 and 1min.50.1s again.
And Suave Stuey Lombo is one of a rare breed to have broken 1min50s at Menangle, going a 1min49.6s, sitting parked, back in June.
He may be drawn in eight, but Stuey will be on the pegs in front almost before Fred Hastings says “they’re racing”.
The interesting runner, and obvious danger, is the Belinda McCarthy trained Bling It On.
A star during his two and three-year-old seasons, winning 26 of 37 starts and finishing runner-up on eight occasions, Bling It On has shown in two runs as a four-year-old that he is capable of taking the step up to open company. Whether he is upto elite company just yet … well we could be about to find out.
Back on November 3, Bling It On looked very impressive at Menangle, doing plenty of work, yet still being able to win well, and in a career best time of 1min.51.3s. He again looked dominant last start finishing strongly to win as he liked in 1min.53.5s.
He is quoted at $4.50 with tab.com.au Fixed Odds, and while he will be giving Stuey a start, he will be the horse storming home at the finish.
Check the full TAB.com.au market for the Group 1 Cordina Sprint here.
John McCarthy’s Blazin N Cullen, comes into the race with not only a nice draw in one, but in good form having chased Avonnova home in the Gold Coast Cup, then finished just behind the placegetters in For A Reason’s Queensland Pacing Championship.
The $12 chance should get the spot behind Stuey, and will enjoy a nice run, but is he capable of catching either of the two favourites?
Abettorpunt ($18) ran some nice races in Queensland, and was just behind Blazin N Cullen in both the feature events. He ran on without threatening behind Beautide in the Coca Cola Sprint last week, and from a bad draw it’s hard to imagine him as a winning threat.
Stuey’s stablemate Mark Dennis ($35) found the line strongly in the Coca Cola Sprint, coming from well back for fourth behind Beautide. Personally I don’t think he will trouble the two favourites, but he’s a legitimate place contender, as are Cold Major ($18), Bettor Bet Black ($18) and John Tapp’s Chariot King ($26).
As for my selections,I’ll go Suave Stuey Lombo to beat Bling It On and Mark Dennis.
Gareth Hall will be trackside at Tabcorp Park Menangle, with all the latest Miracle Mile news, interviews, and late mail for a huge night of racing. Catch it all on Sky Racing 1.
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G2 - Resource Recycling Superstars Championship
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G2 - Storer Motors Nz Trotting Oaks