Gary Harley – Herald – 17.01.23

The Newcastle Jockey Club will stage its first meeting of the year at the Newcastle Racecourse on Tuesday. The Clubs two meetings in December were held on the Beaumont track however the Course Proper will host Tuesday’s meeting.

Local trainer Mark Minervini is expected to saddle up the first Newcastle winner of the year when three-year-old Soobooco steps out in the opening event, the Sharp Office Provincial Maiden Plate (900m). Bred by part owner Max Whitby, the gelding resumes from a spell after a recent quiet trial at Wyong. Following an unplaced debut run in the Group 2 Todman in March Soobooco was spelled, and he resumed in August with two creditable placings at Kembla and Wyong. James McDonald rode him when a close second at Kembla on August 4. His only other start resulted in a two length second behind the Chris Waller trained Narito at Wyong on August 16. Soobooco has drawn perfectly and Mikayla Weir who rode him in the recent trial has the mount.

Joe Pride, fresh from a training double at Rosehill on Saturday will send luckless three-year-old Shalatin to Newcastle and he will be an odds-on favourite in the Horsepower Maiden Plate (1200m). Shalatin has started favourite in his past three starts, and he has finished runner up in all three. In September the gelding was an odds-on favorite when beaten two lengths at Newcastle. He was spelled and came back with a second, beaten a long neck at Canterbury on December 16. Last start Shalatin was again an odds-on favourite when beaten a head at Canterbury on New Year’s Day.

The Melbourne Cup winning training partnership of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have Flying Annie in the Australian Bloodstock Benchmark 64 Handicap (900m), and the mare is second up after a close second at Gosford on December 28. She is very quick, and she led to the shadows of the post at Gosford only to go down by a neck. Flying Annie had good Victorian form last preparation and the short course is a positive. Brock Ryan will take the mount on Flying Annie.

Gosford trained Geewiz Johnny is good value (TAB $8) in the Prince Of Merewether Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). He has been scratched several times recently, obviously due to adverse barriers. Last start he was very unlucky when a fast finishing third at Gosford on December 22. He has drawn soft and Glyn Scofield who has ridden Geewiz Johnny in his past two starts has the mount.

The ultra-consistent Showtime Lady, fresh from a month between runs has bright prospects in the final event the Hungerford Hill Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m). A front running mare who runs her best races when fresh Showtime Lady will benefit from Amy McLucas’ 3-kilogram allowance. Showtime Lady was only beaten a length at Canterbury 2 starts back by Spangler. Back in October she was beaten less than a length when placed in two starts at Warwick Farm.