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By Jack Petley | Friday, October 16, 2020

Chris Waller has sent out a media report on his two $15 million The Everest runners Haut Brion Her and Nature Strip and here are some quotes from that release.

"I have been happy with the work of both horses over the past seven days. They had similar gallops on Saturday and Tuesday and the rest of the week has been relatively easy with both having a light canter each day. It looks like there will be speed to burn and Haut Brion Her is a relatively good barrier horse so you would expect her to relish the hot speed. She has been a very competitive horse. It is undeniable that this month has been difficult for Nature Strip but we have a horse in great shape heading into Saturday. His coat has started to come through which is a good sign. He is a fit horse with a confident jockey and he is good enough to beat them at his best."

Reading between the lines I would say the star sprinter will be at his best tomorrow, the one to beat for me … and in the past day or so, since the draw, his odds have been tightening.

Aktau has a tendon problem and is out of the Caulfield Cup for Mike Moroney, but the stable still has a top runner for the big one, Chapada, the mount of in-form Jye McNeil.

Wide draw and all Anthony Van Dyke stays at around $6 for the Caulfield Cup and the Waller Verry Elleegant is solid at $4.80 and bound to run favourite and is the one to beat on her latest form for the NZ born champion trainer. Money also coming for Master of Wine.

Irish born John Allen has been booked by Aidan O'Brien for his Irish Derby winner Santiago in the Melbourne Cup with the top stayer reportedly being impressive in work. Santiago is around $12 in the market at present and is well weighted at 53.5kgs.

The Geelong Cup next week has attracted solid entries including the German stayer Ashrun who, with the market already out, sits at $4.60. He is 35th in order last time I looked for the Melbourne Cup and a win will make certain of a Cup place.

Kiwi jockey Troy Harris is confident the top mare Melody Belle is the one to beat in tomorrow's Livamol at Hastings. He won the Windsor Park on the Te Akau mare a fortnight ago and says he sees nothing to stop her from winning again tomorrow. "She has bounced back to her best," he told the NZ racing Desk. "She's happy at home. She was really strong last time and I couldn't pull her up which gives me great confidence she is ready for a hard 2000 metres."

Melody Belle has drawn wide but Harris sees that as a positive. "With rain there, being off the fence will be an advantage." Melody Belle sits at$2.60 in the latest market with stablemate and main rival, Avantage, at $3.60 and then Two Illicit at $5. Those three dominate the betting.

And while on Te Akau I note that the top filly Miss Aotearoa has suffered a setback and will not contest the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton. She won the Gold Trail decisively at her last run and was solid in the market.

Back in 2005 Wanganui trainer Jo Rathbone won the Great Northern Steeplechase on Just The Man for Davina Waddell and she is back tomorrow with his top jumper Magic Wonder, a warm favourite in the market at $2.50 with Shaun Fannin up. Magic Wonder heads into the big event with that crushing win in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup over the famed Ellerslie hill and Rathbone says the race is one of her "favourites. "As a rider you want to win these races and also as a trainer." she said. And Rathbone says she is confident her charge will handle the tough 6400 metre journey.

And while on Rathbone, I note that her jumper Tallyho Twinkletoe took out the Champion Jumper of the Year Award at last week's Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards. The 10-year-old has been in wonderful form for the season with wins in the Grand National Hurdle, the Grand National Chase and the Brendan Drechsler Hurdle. He is back in NZ after being injured at his last run in Oz when fifth. "He is home in his paddock and looks good," Rathbone said.

Rick Williams, general manager of The Oaks Stud at Cambridge, has been named Personality of the Year in an award from the NZ Thorough Breeder’s Association while Julian Corban gained the Mary Lynne Ryan Young achiever award. In his time at The Oaks Williams has overseen the development of several top class gallopers including Darci Brahma and Catalyst.

Promising galloper Natterhorn is shortly to cross the Tasman and join the yard of Kris Lees at Newcastle. The Gerry Harvey owned galloper has had two runs in NZ for the Scott-O'Sullivan yard for a win and a second.

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