The last day of the year marks a milestone on the calendar but it is also the occasion of the 100th start for the appropriately named mare The Iron Maiden at Gosford on Monday.
Bought as a weanling in the old Newmarket sale ring at Randwick in 2010 by medico and self-confessed “metal head” Dr Ule Crosson, The Iron Maiden was named after the UK rockers.
“I just loved her when I first saw her at the sale,’’ Dr Crosson said. “She was a cracking sort.’’
BEST BETS WITH SHAYNE O’CASS: GOSFORD
BEST BET: VINCI LADY (Race 4, No. 12)
Is a Gary Portelli first starter by I Am Invincible who finished runner-up in her two trials by narrow margins each time and held together in both. Looks to have her share of talent.
NEXT BEST: OUR DAWN (Race 7 No. 12)
Owned by Aussie icons John Singleton and Dawn Fraser and trained by four-times Golden Slipper winning trainer Clarry Conners. Just missed last start – can go one better this time.
VALUE BET: DORF STAR (Race 6 No 3)
Is another of the Conners’ runners who can win today, this one is a son of his own former bonny mare Dorf Command. Did enough first-up at over 1100m and has won at the venue – also four times at the trip.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: TOMMY BERRY
Heads to Gosford armed with an enviable book of rides including three for Godolphin, La Parva being the best.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
Race 4: 2,7,12
Race 5: 4,10,12
Race 6: 3,6
Race 7: 10,11,12,13
Dr Crosson took The Iron Maiden home to his Luddenham property to mature and when the time came he handed her to Jeff Englebrecht to train on the Central Coast.
“Her first prep was terrible,’’ Dr Crosson said. “She threw in a win at 40-1 then would get beaten eight or nine lengths at Taree.
“My wife Susan was telling me to ‘get rid of this horse’, ‘she’s no good’, ‘you’re just time-wasting Jeff’s time’. It’s something I still remind her off to this day, mind you.
“But Jeff saw something in trackwork that made him keep her in work. Every prep she just seemed to get better and better, all the way up until now.
“She had never run a place in the city prior to this preparation as a nine-year-old.’’
Given his doctoring duties, watching The Iron Maiden perform live is a luxury for Dr Crosson but there are occasions that he will not miss.
“I have been to pretty much all her midweek city runs because Warwick Farm, where she has been predominantly, is about half an hour from where I am,’’ he said.
Not that Dr Crosson’s patients mind because plenty of them tune in when she goes around.
“It’s funny, you seem to attract people who have similar interests, so a lot of my patients are into horses and it’s a very common conversation point,’’ he said.
The Iron Maiden, like all of Dr Crosson’s “string”, spells at his Luddenham property when not racing and gets as much care and attention as any of his human patients.
He has had the most success with Lady Jivago, a $25,000 yearling who won the $250,000 Inglis Classic in 2015 at only her second start.
She was ridden that day by Grant “Bucko” Buckley, who has played more than a cameo role in The Iron Maiden tale having ridden her an incredible 61 times.
Seven of her 10 wins have been with Bucko in the saddle and he will again be aboard for the mare’s 100th appearance.
So what is Dr Crosson’s prognosis for a win today?
“I would have liked to have seen it a lot wetter but that’s not going to happen,’’ he said.
“In fact, quite the opposite, but she is probably racing in the best form of her career.
INSIDE MAIL WITH SHAYNE O’CASS: GOSFORD
Vinci Lady is by the incomparable I Am Invincible who has been warmed up for a winning debut with two trials, ran second inboth of time and was held together each time leaving plenty for race-day. Almerheri is a chance at odds. He was unplaced in his three runs at the first campaign but looked good in patches. Nice trial at Hawkesbury on December 7. Bjorn Baker’s Expellable has also trialled keenly and is by the trainer’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner, Unencumbered.
BET STRATEGY: VINCI LADY WIN, QUINELLA 7,12, BOX TRIFECTA 2,7,12
Cinquedea was unlucky on debut in town then was still a little new next time out when reluctant to run through the narrow gap leading to her finishing third and perhaps not winning. Has always shown talent enough to be winning races and gets anice draw again and has more experience now. Stage Pass is winless after 12 starts but has placed five times. Kicks off herat 1200m with a pair of nice trials under the belt. Nanda Devi made up a huge amount of ground at Newcastle first-up.
BET STRATEGY: CINQUEDEA WIN, QUINELLA 4,12, DUET 4,12
Dorf Star ran on in encouraging style at the end of the 1100m at Hawkesbury first-up. The son of Clarry Conners’ own bonny mare Dorf Command has won at the venue and four of his six career wins have been at this trip. Nicely placed against this calibre of horse today. Star of O’Reilly was a booming winner on debut before failing at Canterbury next time out as the $2.60 favourite. Another of the Bjorn Baker stablemates, Terra Reign, has claims having won two of her four outings.
BET STRATEGY: DORF STAR WIN
Our Dawn is a daughter of Snitzel went as close as she yet has in her seven starts when she flashed up but just missed outat Hawkesbury on a 1500m maiden last start. Bucko sticks and should give her a nice run there from gate 2. I’m Kate is a wellbred Savabeel filly from the Kris Lees yard who will appreciate the mile after a distant debut third over 1300m. Pellicle is a Sepoy replica from the Godolpin yard and liable to peak today. Wide alley the concern however.
BET STRATEGY: OUR DAWN WIN, BOX TRIFECTA 10,11,12,13
NOWRA: FRAZER CHASING DOUBLE BUT T.J. SMITH THE ULTIMATE DREAM
Garry Frazer is eyeing off the $2 million Group 1 ATC T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) as a potential first-up mission for his crack mare Spright next year.
Before that, however, the Hawkesbury trainer is aiming to finish the year on a high with a winning double at Nowra today via the lightly-raced In The Zone and track winner Sweet Fella.
Both geldings will be genuine chances when they resume in their respective races.
In The Zone will be the first to go in the Spencer Family Band Maiden over 1200m. He has been well supported by punters athis three runs but has finished out of the placings each time.
There have been excuses, though.
“He couldn’t breath, that was his biggest problem,’’ Frazer said.
BEST BETS WITH SHAYNE O’CASS: NOWRA
BEST BET: PLEATED MISS (Race 7 No. 16)
Has a poor record on paper but she’s been her own worst enemy for the most part. Ran a big race here first-up over 1100m, she wants at last 1200m now and will be flashing home again at odds.
NEXT BEST: LOVED ONE (Raced 6, No. 4)
A John O’Shea trained Ocean Park grand-daughter of 3-times NZ Broodmare of the Year Flying Floozie. Forget the last run, won prior, and has been back to the trials and went super. Bound for better than this.
“He has had a tie-back operation, which I am really happy with. He will improve but he is as fit as he can be first-up.’’
A handsome son of Not A Single Doubt, In The Zone has looked incredible in his two 1000m trials at home at Hawkesbury this month.
He won both by narrow margins but sent the tel tale signs of a horse who is bound for a better race than a Nowra maiden.
“I just thought I would take him down there for something a bit easier first-up,’’ Frazer said.
Sweetest Fella returns to the scene of his first win in late June, 2016.
On that occasion, the Emirates Park-bred galloper speared away from his opposition to win by upwards of four lengths.
“He goes well fresh and he does a like a bit of sting out of the ground, but we’re not going to get that,’’ Frazer said.
LATE MAIL WITH SHAYNE O’CASS: NOWRA
French Frolic gave a good account of herself first time at the mile here in a maiden on December 9 finishing third. Took ground away from The Art Of The Bar when she debuted at home at Kembla. Lightly-raced and placed to win. Ahmad has been looking for1600m since he first came into work at Randwick. Big danger. Gerald Ryan’s Heroic Fighter is the watch horse.
BET STRATEGY: FRENCH FROLIC WIN, QUINELLA 1,12
Jason Coyle trained gelding led throughout to win at Canberra two runs back. Placed seven times as well. Has a bit of weightover this trip especially but that may be offset by barrier 3. Be prominent for a long way regardless. Delude ran really well at his last outing at the track/distance. This might be his best trip in fact. Spectre and Fortune’s Path are in the mix.
BET STRATEGY: FABRICATOR EACH-WAY
Loved One is a highly valuable broodmare post-racing being by Ocean Park out of a daughter of three-times Champion NZ Broodmare of the Year, Flying Floozie. She looks like she is up to midweek grade, sooner or later, but so far as this race goes, hertrial at Kembla was indicative of a win today. Impatience is an on-pacer from the Ron Quinton camp who scored a well earned win at Newcastle 23-days ago. Dixie was a victim of her wide alley at Orange.
BET STRATEGY: LOVED ONE, BOX TRIFECTA 1,2,4,8
Pleated Miss’s form does not well but she has been giving away massive head-starts and only getting going when the races are all over. The first-up run here over 1100m was a genuine eye-catcher, maybe 1200m is still a tad short for the Mark Newnham-trained filly but there is a win in her very soon. Sono Dolce flew home herself in the same race at Pleated Miss here and did it on debut. Sharp Tune adds value to the exotics.
BET STRATEGY: PLEATED MISS EACH-WAY, QUINELLA 11,16, BOX TRIFECTA 5,11,16