Gary Harley- Herald- 03.10.20

21 year old Victorian apprentice Thomas Stockdale is favoured to ride a winner in his first visit to Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday. Stockdale, on loan to Sydney’s champion trainer Chris Waller, only has the one mount on Saturday aboard Fastconi in the 1250 metre Maiden Plate.

The apprentice had ridden 125 winners and he cannot claim an allowance on the New South Wales Provincial tracks.

Stockdale has had seven rides since arriving in Sydney and is yet to ride a winner. Waller trains Fastconi which has had three starts and his best run was at Canterbury in May when a close second. The colt can race on the speed and has drawn nicely.

The Randwick trained pair, The Mediator and Sophomore, both promising stayers, clash in the opening event the 1600 metre Class 1 Handicap. The Mediator was impressive in a 1500 metre Kembla Maiden two weeks ago and he was placed at Newcastle first up on September 1. John O’Shea has said from day one that Sophomore would develop into a nice stayer and she made up good ground when placed over 1400 metres at Kembla second up recently.

Wyong trained Jaytees clearly has the best form of any runner in the 900 metre Maiden Handicap. When trained by Gerald Ryan, Jaytees was placed in seven of nine starts. The five-year-old resumed under the care of Tracey Bartley on this track on September 19 and was runner up behind the speedy Zorocat. Jaytees has raced twice at Newcastle for two seconds and he has speed to burn.

Winx’s little sister, Covent Garden, will appreciate the sharp drop in class when she contests the 1400 meter Maiden Handicap. The filly hasn’t placed in all three of her starts but there have been excuses. She struck a bog track when down the track at Warwick farm on September 2 when she was beaten 1.8 lengths. Covent Garden has drawn nicely.

Annabel Neasham’s great start to her training career can continue at Newcastle this weekend when her unbeaten three-year-old Commanding Missile steps out in the 1200 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap. Neasham, the former foreman for the powerful Maher- Eustace stable, has only had three starters for three winners. Commanding Missile has won at Scone and Goulburn while Zarzou won at Canberra on Wednesday. This is Commanding Missile’s toughest test to date, but he is up to the task. Still immature, the gelding overcame difficulties to win at Scone on August 25. Then he went to Goulburn and overpowered the leaders late.

Kim Waugh’s Holy Reign has a fine record at Newcastle and he can overcome an adverse barrier to win the 1300 metre Benchmark 68 Handicap.

Holy Reign has had eight starts on the track for two wins and four seconds. The five year old stormed home when beaten a neck by Chalmers on this track two weeks ago. He came from last at the top of the straight when a runaway winner here on August 8.