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Don’t dismiss Miss Ostend

There were mixed fortunes for the local hopes in the live barrier draws for the John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes (1200m) and the TAB Canberra Cup (2000m). Norm Gardner was ecstatic with his Miss Ostend’s draw of Barrier Six while Matthew Dale’s Pretty Woman who is currently $4.80 with TAB, drew Barrier Nine.

Norm Gardner buoyed by his filly’s draw was confident Miss Ostend can be a player in this year’s $250,000 Group 3 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes.

“With Barrier Six it just gives us so many options.” Gardner said. “She’s been dreadfully unlucky with barriers getting 13 of 13 last start. She was five wide and last on the turn and was taking ground off them at the finish.”

“It was a hard run last start which is a slight concern but I think we’ve got her spot on. If she can settle one out, one back she’s a big chance.”

In the TAB Canberra Cup, last year’s 3rd place-getter Maid of Ore was dealt a harsh hand drawing 14 out of 16. Todd Smart’s Whiskey Jack drew 15 while the barrier gods again smiled upon Norm Gardner giving his Upper House Barrier One.

Nick Olive, trainer of Maid of Ore was obviously disappointed by his mare’s luck and said with a better draw she would have been right in this year’s edition of the TAB Canberra Cup.

“I honestly believe we’ve got Maid of Ore going better than we ever have.” Olive said. “This (draw) obviously makes things a lot harder for her.”

“She’s probably going to be near the back three deep with cover which isn’t the end of the world, she’s going to have to be better than last year to be a chance now.”

The Seears Workwear Listed National Sprint (1400m) has attracted a wonderful field including Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott’s Just Thinkin’. A son of So You Think, Just Thinkin’ enters the contest first up having won once from three first up attempts. The gelding boasts a fourth placing behind the likes of Shadow Hero and Castelvecchio in the Group One Spring Champion Stakes.

The bookmakers have identified Mark Newnham’s Academy as the one to beat with the TAB currently rating him a $3.7 chance. Keith Dryden’s flyer Handle The Truth is also engaged in the $150,000 Seears Workwear National Sprint. The 2019 Kosciuszko winner was excellent first up in Sydney running a gallant third with a big weight.

The Listed Iron Jack Canberra Guineas (1400m) rounds out the Canberra Carnival features with the Annabel Neasham colt Equation the early favourite with TAB at $2.70. The Aquis-owner son of Press Statement has won three of four starts including an impressive last start victory at Canterbury on 19 February 2021.

A field littered with City-class horses, Matthew Dale’s Molly Nails is Canberra’s only hope in the $150,000 three-year-old feature after winning the Casino Canberra Canberra Guineas Preview. She is currently $7 with TAB.


Photo credit: Bradley Photos