GOTTA Take Care is fulfilling Irish jockey John Allen’s Australian dream.
Allen and Gotta Take Care have developed into one of the most formidable combinations on the Victorian jumps scene this season.
Two feature wins have Gotta Take Care as a major contender for Sunday’s $200,000 Grand National Hurdle, 3900m, at Sandown Lakeside.
Allen has already had a great run in his second jumps season in Australia, riding out of the Ballarat stable of Darren Weir, but success in the time-honoured Grand National would take his standing to another level.
A second season jumper, Gotta Take Care has been a model of consistency this preparation, going back to a third in the Edenhope Cup on the flat in March.
His jumps form reads three wins and two seconds, with his only other run being a fourth in the Australian Hurdle.
Right now Gotta Take Care is racing at his peak, with wins in the Brendan Drechsler Hurdle at Bendigo on June 17 and Kevin Lafferty Hurdle at Warrnambool on Saturday his latest starts.
Weir is crediting blinkers as the key to Gotta Take Care’s top form.
He said the addition of blinkers had turned him around.
Robert Smerdon has nominated Brungle Cry for the Grand National, while Patrick Payne has entered Titch and Lord of the Song.
Brungle Cry trialed twice at Cranbourne on Monday, winning over 1355m in his second run.
• TWO hurdle events will launch a nine-race card in Ballarat on Thursday.
Racing Victoria had planned to divide the maiden hurdle after the transfer of a race from Mornington, but instead this will be run as the one event with 13 acceptors, including an emergency.
The QLS Logistics 0-120 Hurdle, 3200m, opens the program at the early time of 11.36am.
Honour The Force and Brett Scott-trained Dubhdara head the weights on 68kg in the six-horse field.
Scott is a former champion jumps jockey in his first season training.
He has had 34 starters, but is yet to land a winner, having to settle for seven minor placings.
Seeking The Silver is his stable star, going extremely close to not only winning, but landing a feature race with seconds in the $100,000 Australian Hurdle and $100,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle (Warrnambool), and thirds in the $100,000 Jack Dow Memorial Hurdle (Mornington), $100,000 Galleywood Hurdle (Warrnambool) and $100,000 Yalumba Hurdle (Oakbank).
Dubhdara has had just the one race start for Scott since arriving from New Zealand, where he won in May. Scott also has Pop’s Revival engaged in the Sportsbet.com.au Super Second Maiden Hurdle, 3200m, on Thursday.
Previously known as Papas Revolution, the seven-year-old is yet to race over the jumps, but is coming off a hurdle trial win at Cranbourne.
The rail will be in the true position on the inner track for flat races and outer track for jumps events.
The track was yesterday rated a slow7.
• TWO wins at Warrnambool on Saturday, four at Warracknabeal on Sunday and another two at Echuca on Monday.
They keep coming for Darren Weir’s Ballarat/Warrnambool stable — one of the biggest training operations in Australia.
Closing in on 1000 starts for the season, Weir is third to Peter Moody and Peter Snowden in the national trainers’ premiership with more than 160 wins.
His Echuca double came up with Current Affair ($6) in a 0-62 handicap, 1100m, and El Devine ($21) in a three-year-old 0-68 handicap, 1200m.
• DAMIEN Hunter made a return to the winners’ circle at Geelong yesterday.
Mahsam ($3.60 favourite) scored for the Ballarat trainer in a 0-58 handicap, 2100m, on the synthetic track.
It was just Mahsam’s third start for Hunter, who has had only a handful of starters in the past 12 months.
Mahsam is a five-year-old with two wins in 14 starts.