Gary Harley – Herald – 29.06.24

Chris Waller’s four-year-old Zoustar mare Fakhra, placed in five of seven starts is set to break through first up from a spell at the Newcastle Jockey Clubs race meeting on Saturday. The Irish import commenced her career in Europe and when she steps out in the AHA Newcastle Maiden Plate (1400m) on Saturday it will be her fifth Australian start.

In February Fakhra was beaten two lengths by Wymark in a 1600m Newcastle Super Maiden and Wymark went on to win the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes six weeks later. The mare has not raced since a close second at Hawkesbury in March, but James McDonald rode her in a recent Rosehill trial where she flashed home to go down narrowly. Fakhra races well fresh, has a positive barrier and Jeff Penza has the mount.

Former Kiwi based trainer Richard Collett who has settled at Warwick Farm heads to Newcastle with last start Wyong winner Whetu who has a definite chance in the Keep Looking When Cooking Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1850m). Originally allocated topweight of 63kg, Whetu will benefit from apprentice Olivia Dalton’s 3kg claim, and she rode the stayer in his first two runs this preparation. Four of the son of Dundeel’s wins have been on wet tracks and third up over the Wyong 2000m trip on a heavy track last start on June 6 he bolted in by 3.6 lengths with the trainer’s son Jason in the saddle. In his only Newcastle start in July last year Whetu came from the tail of the field for an eye-catching close third over 1890m.

Ciaron Maher’s I Am Invincible mare There There has not had any luck this preparation and she is well placed in the Only Working Smoke Alarms Saves Lives Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). She was very unlucky when unplaced at Canterbury last start on May 29. The mare was twelve lengths from the leader’s mid race, and when looking for a gap between runners in the straight ran into a dead end and was badly held up 150m out. In the end There There went to the line hard held, 2.45 lengths from the winner. Two starts back she went to the line hard held when beaten two lengths on this track. There There has drawn perfectly in barrier two and will carry only 56kg after Anna Roper’s claim, and she now has less weight than any other runner.

Paul Perry’s Princess Cruizer is knocking on the door and the Newcastle Bathrooms Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1400m) is a winnable race for the filly who is a daughter of Perry’s favourite horse Choisir. The three-year-old loomed up to win at Newcastle last start on May 25, but was nosed out on the line. She was third last 500m out and sprinted quickly in the straight to just miss. Two starts back on Scone Cup Day Princess Cruizer made up many lengths from the turn to go down by less than a length to the smart Godolphin horse How Dare You. Experienced Group 1 winning rider Christian Reith rode the filly last start, and he has the mount on Saturday.

Another Newcastle trainer with a winning chance is Sam Kavanagh who saddles up Sharpen The Knives in the Lake Macquarie Carpet Cleaning Provincial Maiden Handicap (1200m). The Snitzel filly has only had three starts, two at Newcastle, and both her runs on the home track earlier this year were very good. First up at Wyong on June 13 the three-year-old led when runner up. The in-form Jean Van Overmeire has the mount on Saturday.

It is the Fire And Rescue New South Wales race day on Saturday raising funds for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital burns unit.