Day At The Track

Don't overlook Forgotten Highway

08:05 PM 07 Apr 2020 NZST
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Promising New Zealand-bred stayer Forgotten Highway ticks all the boxes when looking for the winner of the $40,000 Easter Cup, a Group 2 standing-start feature event over the marathon trip of 2902m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.

The lightly-raced six-year-old, who is prepared by Michael Brennan, has raced 21 times in stands for four wins and 13 placings. He has won over 3000m and has been placed over 3000m and 3200m.

Forgotten Highway, who will be driven for the first time by Nathan Turvey, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 on the front line of four runners. The only query is that the Bettors Delight gelding will be having only his second start after an absence of five months.

He resumed in a 2116m stand at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he galloped out for a couple of strides from the 10m mark, losing two to three lengths. He settled in ninth position and was eighth at the bell before he followed a three-wide move from Vivere Damore with 500m to travel. After switching four wide on the home turn Forgotten Highway took a narrow lead 100m from the post and went on to win by a narrow margin from Vivere Damore, rating 1.58.4, with final quarters of 27.7sec. and 29.5sec.

Described by Brennan as a big, gross horse whose ideal racing pattern is as a sit-sprinter, Forgotten Highway is a top-class pacer with a sparkling turn of foot. He has appeared only once at Gloucester Park and that was when he started from barrier two in a 2130m mobile event last October when he dashed to an early lead, set the pace, sprinted the final 400m sections in 28.4sec. and 27.9sec. and won easily at a 1.56.2 rate from Art Tudor.  

Michael Grantham has driven Forgotten Highway in all of his seven starts in Western Australia for two wins, four seconds and one third. But he has opted to handle classy stablemate Miss Sangrial, the only mare in the Cup, who will start off the 30m mark.

Grantham drove Miss Sangrial in last year’s Easter Cup in which she met with interference and did not show up, finishing eighth behind Mighty Conqueror.

Miss Sangrial has won three times in stands and is capable if unwinding a powerful finishing burst when held up for a late charge.

Brennan is hoping that history repeats itself, with Forgotten Highway starting from the No. 3 barrier on the front line. He prepared four-year-old Anvils Big Punt for his all-the-way victory over Ohoka du Nord and Waikawa Bay when he started from barrier three on the front line in the 2011 Easter Cup.

Star Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice drove Anvils Big Punt in the 2011 Easter Cup and he is hoping for another win this year when Gary Hall Jnr drives his nomination Always An Honour off the 30m mark.

Always An Honour has scored effortless victories in mobiles over 2536m and 2130m at his past two outings, but is also an outstanding standing-start performer, with his ten appearances in stands producing six wins and one placing.

Hall is seeking his sixth driving success in the Easter Cup after wins behind The Falcon Strike (2003), Patches (2006), Uppy Son (2012), Rebel Scooter (2013) and Znana (2016).

The backmarker off 50m is As Happy As Larry, who started off 30m (virtually 20m because there were no frontmarkers) in last year’s Easter Cup. As Happy As Larry overcame early interference and ran home powerfully from tenth in the middle stages to finish a nose second behind the $1.95 favourite Mighty Conqueror, who took up the frontrunning after a lap.

Mighty Conqueror was trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick for his win in last year’s Easter Cup, and the Bonds hold a strong hand in this year’s Cup, with Where Ya Bin (Dylan Egerton-Green) starting from the No. 1 barrier on the front line and Taroona Bromac (Warwick) starting from the 20m mark. The Bonds prepared Assassinator (Ryan Bell) for his win in the 2017 Easter Cup.

Where Ya Bin is a good frontrunner whose 13 starts in stands in WA have produced three wins and five placings. He and other four-year-olds Taroona Bromac and Always An Honour are the youngest runners in the race.

It is interesting to note that Taroona Bromac, who has a winning record of 77 per cent from ten wins from just 13 starts, has not contested a standing-start event. He qualified to race in a stand when he finished third in a six-horse trial in Ashburton, New Zealand, in December 2018.

 

Ken Casellas

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