Grafton tips: The Lion ready to roar again
The Lion is among the main chances in the Jacaranda Cup at Grafton. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
Dual TAB Highway winner The Lion is set to roar back into top form in the feature Jacaranda Cup (1106m) at Grafton after a luckless lead-up run in the Prelude last month.
The Michelle Fleming-trained gelding was crunched from $10 to $6.50 to win the Jacaranda Cup Prelude (1100m) but paid the penalty for his wide draw and raced in restricted room on the concluding stages.
In the end, The Lion did well to finish fifth with only two of those clocked in ahead of him backing up here namely More Patasi (second) and San Sierra (fourth).
The Lion looks well placed in the Jacaranda Cup at Grafton. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
“I didn’t think the run was too bad and I thought he finished off nicely,’’ Fleming said.
“Obviously I would have liked a better barrier that day but I have one this time which is good because then he can travel up there and bit a little bit closer. He won’t have to make up as much ground.
“He got a bit of a bump coming up the straight in the Prelude and he is the sort of horse who has to work into, and that bump out him off a little bit. He still regathered and came home quite well.’’
The Lion’s Prelude performance was even more encouraging given what it has done for him physically.
“I think the run did him the world of good,’’ Fleming said. “He is a good do-er and he is hard to get the weight off but he is pretty good right now. He is really spot on.
SHAYNE O’CASS’S BEST BETS
BLING ‘N’ BUBBLES (Race 1, No.1)
Matthew Dunn-trained daughter of All Too Hard who goes up 3kg for her last start win here over 1410m but is a better horse than the others. She just has to prove herself as effective at the 1610m.
LADY GRANDE (Race 5, No.5)
Former John Sargent-trained mare has been with Ethan Ensby at Ballina for two runs — running second at the first one and winning the other easily, by two lengths here over 1700m. Can keep progressing.
THE LION (Race 7, No.10)
Had no luck when fifth in the Prelude to this race at his last start. Dual Highway winner who is drawn better today and can easily figure.
Race 5: 5. Race 6: 1,2. Race 7: 1,10. Race 8: 1,3,4,10.
MATTHEW MCGUREN rode a double at the last Grafton meeting. One of them was Bling ‘N’ Bubbles, who should kick him off on the right note here.
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Matthew McGuren will be hoping to repeat his double from the last Grafton meeting at the same track on Wednesday. Picture: Richard WalkerSource:News Corp Australia
“This is my first little mission that I have set for him so the Prelude was perfect just to set him up for it and he is a horse who can you back-up a week later. He pulled up really well.’’
The Lion has started 30 times and has been ridden by Sincero’s jockey Chris O’Brien at 18 of them including at his first Highway win where he came from near last to win by two lengths.
That said, O’Brien is third in line in The Lion’s supporters behind Fleming herself and former leviathan bookmaker Bruce McHugh who bred the horse at Tamalee Stud located at Tamworth where The Lion is housed.
The Lion is a son of McHugh’s underrated stallion Arlington who as well as being a $1.5 million sale topper at the Magic Millions Sale, is also a half brother to Cox Plate winner and five-times Champion NZ sire Savabeel. “The Lion was only a two-year-old when I first got him. I put him in the paddock and let him grow — and he did,’’ Fleming joked.
“I have had him for a long time but I leased him off Bruce who bred the horse so he was a bit excited when I won a Walcha maiden with him at only his second ever start.’’
Fleming bought The Lion’s full brother as a weanling for $7000 from McHugh, the now unraced two-year-old named in honour of her big brother, called The Little Lion.
Meantime, Matthew Dunn is aiming to secure a second $125,000 Country Classic (2000m) at Rosehill this weekend with last start Eagle Farm winner Royal For Danger but not before hopefully bagging a double in the first two races at Grafton.
Dunn won the inaugural Country Classic with Danzero gelding Flitero, a son of Flitter who won the Doomben 10,000 and Coolmore Classic when trained by the late Max Lees.
Trainer Matthew Dunn has some good chances at Grafton. Picture: Richard GoslingSource:News Corp Australia
Coincidentally, Flitter is the grand-dam of Dunn’s Royal Factor who is perfectly poised to register his third win at start five in today’s CRJC Life Members Cup (1410m).
Royal Factor broke his maiden status at Grafton in no uncertain terms blasting his way to a 2.8-lengths win over the 1100m.
The son of US sire The Factor was fourth at the Gold Coast 18 days later before a return to the winner’s stall in a 1300m Benchmark 58 at Lismore, leading throughout in a gritty display.
“He has done a good job and was good last start,’’ Dunn said.
“He gets in well at the weights with the claim and has done really well. He has taken a little while to find his groove but he is going well enough to be midweek city grade at the moment. If he can get over this he might step to that level.’’
Dunn’s other runner at Grafton today, Bling ‘N’ Bubbles, is also a last start winner at this same venue as recently as eight days ago.
The daughter of All Too Hard controlled the race from the front and was never challenged in the straight forging to a 1.6-lengths win.
All she has to do now is take that form to the mile in the opener.
“I think she will run the mile OK,’’ Dunn said. “We put her on speed and she really hit the line last start. It’s a similar race — they don’t look much good again — so she gets her chance for sure.’’
Bling ‘N’ Bubbles goes up 3kg for her last start but Dunn has elected to stick with Matthew McGuren who is ‘one for one’ on the mare.
“I tossed around with the idea of putting a kid on but she is the sort of mare who needs to be ridden by someone that is a bit aggressive so we stuck with a senior rider,’’ he said.
SHAYNE O’CASS’S INSIDE MAIL
Bling ‘N’ Bubbles is a Matthew Dunn-trained mare by All Too Hard who has a solid record of two wins and three placings from 10 starts. She led and won by 1.6 lengths here on October 29 in a 1400m Class 1. Goes up 3kg and has to run the mile now but no reason she won’t. Penny Rosa was a distant third to Bling ‘N’ Bubbles 8-days ago. Meets her better 2kg at the weights today. Queen of Manhattan was confidently backed and did it well at Narromine first-up.
: BLING ‘N’ BUBBLES win, exacta 1 to beat 3.
Matthew Dunn’s second and only other runner on the day is Royal Factor, a lightly-raced horse who has won two of his four starts and was fourth/fifth at the other two. This fellow led and showed some fight when challenged to win at Lismore last start. Progressive enough. Reef Bug turned in the best run of the campaign so far when narrowly beaten at Ipswich. Could threaten. At Witz End has won three from six at this same track and distance.
: ROYAL FACTOR win.
Shy Boy is a son of Testa Rossa who has been able to place at three of his seven starts. Two of those placings have been at his only runs for ‘new’ trainer Stephen Lee, who has once again found the perfect race for the horse to break his maiden. Line Up Girls held his ground first-up when fifth at Port Macquarie on the heavy track. Ran seventh of eight to Classique Legend — beaten 15-lengths but still ... this is a Grafton maiden. Tactical Move is a market watch.
: SHY BOY win, exacta 6 to beat 3.
Beachbreak is no good thing to start here, it seems that the stable will be represented by the first starter Flatter instead. Flatter is a filly owned by the Mitchell brothers of Yarraman Stud fame and is by their former resident sire Hinchinbrook. She is a half to Brave Song and her grand-dam won the Queensland Oaks and Derby. Go well. Lonny Lonny is getting close to a win now and is very familiar with the track with her last four runs all being at Grafton.
: BEACHBREAK win or if scratched, FLATTER win.
Lady Grande had her first seven starts for John Sargent and most of them were pretty solid. She has been with Ethan Ensby for two runs, finishing second at Ballina at the first one then winning easily (on pace) here at Grafton over 1700m. Bred to stay so the 2200m holds no fears in this grade. Red Intuition made some ground in the straight when 2.4 lengths off the winner in a 2012m Class 1 at Port Mac. Kingly is a very consistent horse from an astute stable.
: LADY GRANDE win.
Vegareign is a Kris Lees-trained son of the French Derby winner and very underrated stallion Lope de Vega. This gelding has placed at two of his five starts. One was at his most recent outing where he finished a distant third to the aforementioned Lady Grande. Gets his chance again today. Miss Gem should be prominent from the outset and is closing in on a maiden win. Unleash The Red belied his $101 quote when beaten a length here last time.
: VEGAREIGN win, quinella 1,2.
The Lion is a dual Highway winner who once beat Burning Crown. The Michelle Fleming-trained son of Arlington didn’t have the best of luck on the Prelude getting back early and racing tight late. He should be able to position up handier from the good draw and we know he tries hard. Jadentom is a Toowoomba visitor who was beaten 3.5-lengths by Alassio at Randwick last prep. Second-up off a solid run at Eagle Farm. Dream Master is in great form.
: THE LION win, box trifecta 1,2,6,10.
Bugalugs has had the one run for John Shelton and there was plenty to be enthusiastic about. That was on October 21 here in a Class 1 over 1100m where he finished second to Moonhawk who goes pretty well. Step up in distance is surely in his favour. Midweek Hussler was heavily backed last start here also when runner-up in a 1200m Bm66. Taken On Chance and Barbary are worth considering.
: Bugalugs win, quinella 3,4.
Originally published asGrafton tips: The Lion ready to roar again