Irish eyes focused on Newcastle success

Irish jockey Declan McDonogh, in only his second day riding in Australia, has been engaged for two plum mounts at the Newcastle race meeting on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Irishman had a mixed day at the Gosford meeting on Thursday in the first day of his summer riding stint.

He had three mounts at Gosford and after a tough ride on the keen going Ma Tante, which he got home by a nose, McDonogh was aboard the well-backed Native American two hours later.

HOPEFUL: Kris Lees

HOPEFUL: Kris Lees

Native American was first past the post, but racegoers had no doubt that the runner-up Nipotina would be awarded the race after a protest hearing.

Stewards upheld the protest from Brenton Avdulla, and McDonogh finished the day with a win and a second.

On Saturday at Newcastle, the visitor has been entrusted with the ride on the $1.95 favourite Puppet Master in the 900-metre three-year-old Maiden Plate. He also rides $3.10 second favourite California Turbo in the 1400m Maiden Handicap.

Puppet Master has had four starts for three placings, two of them on Metropolitan tracks. The colt, trained by 2017 Golden Slipper-winning trainer Gary Portelli, has drawn the coveted rails barrier.

Puppet Master was favourite when a close third at the Canterbury night meeting on December 1.

McDonogh has been riding some trackwork for Peter and Paul Snowden and he has been rewarded with the mount on California Turbo. The latter is on debut after a Randwick trial win two weeks ago.

McDonogh has two other mounts on Saturday with College Romance in race one and One Fire Beach in race six. He said at Gosford on Thursday that champion jockey Hugh Bowman advised him to have a stint in Australia.

“Hugh told me to try my luck here so I decided to have a working holiday in Sydney,” he said. “I will be going home in January. I have ridden six Group 1 winners in Europe and I have also ridden in America.”

Kris Lees will saddle up three runners on Saturday at Newcastle and two of the trio are early favourites: Heat Haze ($2.60), All Summer Long ($8.50) and Biscuit Time ($3).

The regally bred Heat Haze has her third start in the 1400 metre Fillies and Mares Maiden. Both her starts have been on the Newcastle track and she was placed in a very strong Maiden on November 19.

All Summer Long transferred from Murwillumbah trainer Matt Sunn to Lees a couple of months ago and has his first start in five months in the 1200m Benchmark 74 Handicap.

The seven-year-old trialled nicely on the Beaumont track two weeks ago. Biscuit Time is a short courser well placed in the 900m Class 2 Handicap.  He is nicely weighted on 52.5 kilograms after the claim for stable apprentice Louise Day.

Lees discussed the prospects of his trio with yours truly on Thursday. “Heat Haze is a well-bred filly but a slow maturer,” he said.

“She is improving with each run and the extra trip is in her favour.

“All Summer long may need the run. His first trial for me was plain but his second trial was much better. Biscuit Time is a fast horse and he comes off a good trial win at Wyong. He will give a good sight over the 900.”

The Godolphin stable are enjoying another successful season on the Newcastle track and have three horses making the trip up the M1 and all three are early favourites – Unwise ($2.25) in race one, Libraries ($2.30) in race six and Inquiry ($2.60).

AAP reports: English import Mornington will take a leading role in Chris Waller's seven-pronged attack on the 2000-metre race at Rosehill.

Now owned by Richard Pegum, Mornington has had two 1800m-runs in Australia for third and fourth.

"We normally find they take a preparation or two to hit their straps. He's in his first preparation and doing a fairly good job," Waller said.

Mornington, the joint $6 favourite on Friday alngside stablemate Carzoff and the Bjorn Baker-trained Impavido, runs in the National Jockeys' Trust Handicap (2000m).

"He'll appreciate stepping up to 2000, although it's still short of his best. A bit of give in the the track will also suit," Waller said.

Mornington is one of five imports in Waller's contingent while Tumultuous and Hogmanay are his home-grown contenders in the field of 13.

Waller rated Lead Choreographer ($8.50) as one of his best hopes, providing the introduction of a Norton bit has the desired result.

"He's shown no respect to his riders and over-raced in his last two runs," he said.

"The gear change should help Josh Parr control him better and for that reason he's a top-three chance."

Waller has also taken remedial measures with topweight Hogmanay ($11) after a subdued run over 1800m, backing off his workload.

He felt Carzoff required luck from barrier 12, Mortar Platoon ($16) would appreciate rain after struggling last-up on a good surface and mare Firebird Flyer ($17) faced a significant step up in grade as a lightweight chance.

Tumultous ($6.50) needed forecast rain to miss Rosehill.

"Anything worse than a four, he fails on," Waller said..

"That's the difference between an Australian-bred horse and a European. He really likes a good track."