Veteran Gladstone trainer Peter Ball hopes to set the record straight for both himself and his horse when the new racing season opens at Hawkesbury tomorrow.
But he won’t be there to welcome San Marco if the four-year-old makes it four wins on the bounce in the A & T Seafoods Conditional Benchmark 70 Handicap (1000m).
“I’ll be sitting on the couch cheering him home,” 81-year-old Ball said this morning.
“My son Tony has a couple of runners at Warwick Farm today and took San Marco to Sydney yesterday with them.”
Ball has done a superb job with the son of Smart Missile, who originally fetched $155,000 when offered at the Inglis Classic yearling sale in 2016.
He raced seven times for his former Sydney trainer for two provincial placings; one of them at his only start so far at Hawkesbury when second to Vellor in a Maiden Plate (1100m) on August 24, 2017, coming from eighth at the 400m.
After finishing fifth as a $2.20 favorite in an Ipswich 3YO Maiden (1100m) on January 31 last year, San Marco was purchased online the following month by new owner Barry Rumbel for approximately 10 per cent of his original price at Bloodstockauction.com and transferred to Ball’s Gladstone stable.
“I’ve only got four horses in work, and this fellow is a lovely, quiet horse,” Ball said.
“I don’t need troublesome horses at my age.
“San Marco has trained on well since his last win at Randwick, and the Hawkesbury race looked a good option for him.”
Ball has had three starters at Hawkesbury for two placings, and San Marco will be strongly fancied to break his trainer’s “duck” and keep his winning momentum going tomorrow.
The Smart Missile gelding has had 16 starts under Ball’s care for four wins and eight placings.
He began his current streak with a Taree 1000m victory in March, then resumed after a short break to score over 1005m at Coffs Harbour on June 21.
San Marco then tackled a Class 3 TAB Highway (1000m) at Royal Randwick on July 6, and clinched a hat-trick with a strong-finishing win at $10.
Tim Clark rode him then but is a Hawkesbury absentee tomorrow, and Brenton Avdulla has taken the mount.
Wyong trainer Les Tilley also is tackling the Benchmark 70 with his handy sprinter Nosey, who comes off a last start victory at the Grafton carnival in a Benchmark 66 Handicap (1000m) on July 11.
He carried 58.5kg then after an allowance, and Tilley has recalled apprentice Mikayla Weir for the Hawkesbury assignment.
Her 2kg claim lessens the aptly-named Nosey (by Eavesdropper) to 57kg. She has ridden the gelding five times for three placings, all of them on provincial tracks.
Nosey has been ridden by apprentices in four of his five wins to date; Chris O’Brien being the sole successful senior jockey.
Anthony Cummings will rely on Royal Anthem (Adrian Layt) in the Val Verde Maiden Plate (1800m), having withdrawn his other acceptor Disco Mo.
Royal Anthem, a Your Song mare, is bursting to break through after 11 placings from her 16 starts, and now has only four rivals.
Gerald Ryan has taken dual acceptor Steely out of the Mars Food Maiden Handicap (1500m) to run in the shorter Priestley’s Maiden Plate (1300m).
Hawkesbury escaped the overnight coastal rain, and a “Good 4” rating was posted this morning, with a penetrometer reading of 4.85.
The rail is in the TRUE position.
Paul Joice’s selections are:
RACE 1: ROYAL ANTHEM, Parry Sound, True Marvel.
RACE 2: ROYAL PATRIOT, Havana Storm, Wild Sheila.
RACE 3: I ARIZE, Pride Of Darci, Monsieur Macron.
RACE 4: STEELY, Arakwal, Truly Invincible.
RACE 5: SPLENDID SURPRISE, For Love, Exotic Ruby.
RACE 6: SWEETEST EYES, Il Bandito, San Marco.
RACE 7: DUNBRODY POWER, Mandalong Sera, Intrepidacious.
RACE 8: DAMBULLA, First Lady, Shangato.
BEST: ROYAL ANTHEM Check out the early Hawkesbury betting markets.
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