Newcastle pacing: Ultimate Art ready for Armidale Cup defence

Michael Formosa and Ultimate Art

Michael Formosa and Ultimate Art

Michael Formosa will look to resuming star Ultimate Art and a pair of two-year-olds to provide a much-needed lift this weekend.

The Ellalong trainer-driver will race four, including Eclipse Stride and Velocity Stride for prolific owner Emilio Rosati, at Newcastle on Saturday night before taking Ultimate Art for an Armidale Cup defence on Sunday.

Formosa had kept numbers down in his stable while caring for his father, George, who passed away in January.

“We’ve had a rough last six months so hopefully things turn around a bit for us,” Formosa said.

Ultimate Art will return to racing after a three-month break. Formosa said the eight-year-old stallion, which has 35 wins in 95 starts and $543,541 in stakes, had feet problems in Queensland before the spell but was “ready to go again”.

“He might be a little bit vulnerable first-up but he’s worked pretty good, so I’m happy with him,” Formosa said. “He’s actually pretty lazy in his work so it’s hard to know how he’s going. Even in trials, he only goes as hard as whatever’s next to him. But I did some fast work with him yesterday and he must have known I wanted to test him, because he got out and wanted to go, which is unlike him, so it gives me some confidence.”

Bobs Farm trainer Geoff Harding’s Strathlachlan Andy will also contest the Armidale Cup (2360m).

Formosa is preparing to take Ultimate Art to this month’s Bathurst carnival, which is also the target for Eclipse Stride and Velocity Stride. They race in the two-year-old events to finish the Newcastle meeting.

Eclipse Stride is on debut in race nine and Velocity Stride, second at Newcastle in his only start, contests the 10th and final event on the program.

“They are being aimed at Bathurst carnival so hopefully they’ll hold their form for another month,” he said.

“They are improving all the time and I’m confident both will do well.”

Formosa also has Mondooley Heaven, which has drawn poorly in the first, and Rocknroll Emma in the second at Newcastle.

He was hoping Rocknroll Emma could recapture her form from gate one.