It wasn’t just any old meeting at Maitland on Monday night as several Maitland Gold Cup hopefuls warmed up for December’s $40,000 Group 2 series.
The powerful Lord kennel is setting Southern Stars runner-up Screaming Jet, Goulburn Cup finalist Nangar Larry and the promising Mr. Yellowstone for the Cup, with all three having their first run at the track.
Screaming Jet and Nangar Larry were both a little sluggish away, the pair eventually finishing together 4.25 lengths behind impressive winner SublimeEthics.
“Screaming Jet’s run was unbelievable considering he got completely lost but he never stops trying. There’s a good race in him, whether it’s the Maitland Cup or not, he’ll get one soon,” Andy Lord said on Tuesday morning.
“And Nangar Larry has run fast time on a U-Turn track but got a bit lost as well. He got pushed into the rail too and still finished thereabouts. I’m confident the pair of them can break 25 seconds easy though, and they’ll be in the hunt if they can do that.”
Mr. Yellowstone produced a BON performance over the 400m trip after flying out of the boxes and pulling away on the line to win in 22.18.
“Half his battle is coming out of the lids but when he begins, he’s near unbeatable. He’s still not a fool proof beginner but hopefully he’s improving,” Lord added.
But arguably the story of the night was the racing return of Canya Smoke Them.
The one-time MDC Maiden winner making his long-awaited comeback to the track, seven months to the day after suffering a hock injury that threatened his chasing career.
“He’s the first dog I’ve ever brought back from a broken hock. I’ve always retired them because in my opinion, it sets them back two or three tenths,” Lord said.
“But ‘Smokey’ hasn’t lost a step. The vet said his bones were the hardest of any dog he’s ever fixed up so that says something. We had to walk him by hand early on because he kept wanting to run, he’s just one of those dogs I suppose that loves to move.”
Canya Smoke Them claimed the MDC Maiden (September, 2023) final in a time of 29.67
The experienced Lord giving the nine-time winner plenty of time in the paddock before clearing him for a return to racing on November 10 at Goulburn.
“He came back running and went 19.57 over the 350m (Goulburn Fireball winner Packham Silk ran 19.84 in the October final) so he’s going really well,” Lord said.
“The dog had never seen the Maitland track before Monday so I was happy with his run [22.48 and 4.25 lengths behind Mr. Yellowstone] and I think his owner Mark Duclos’ grandkids have a share in him so they’ll be happy to get a sling off ‘Duke’,” he laughed.
The quartet of runners now heading towards the heats of the Cup on December 1 where they’ll run into a trio of Dave Smith runners.
SublimeEthics and Got The Feature were both victorious on Monday night for Smith while Nowra Puppy Classic winner Tarawi Rocky also has extensive experience at the Hunter Valley circuit.
“Sublime [Ethics] is the fastest of the three but can only win from an outside draw. [Tarawi] Rocky is the best race dog and is probably the most adaptable, and Got The Feature is the best dog at Maitland,” Smith said.
“Got The Feature made the Maitland Cup final earlier this year as well so if he can draw wide, he’ll be hard to beat. He’s coming back from an injury and he looked like he might have lost a bit of his early pace but he found it again last night.”
Got The Feature won a non-graded 450m event in a BON time of 24.88, six lengths ahead of Tarawi Rocky. SublimeEthics ran 24.97 to register her tenth win at start 25.
The $40,000-to-the-winner heats will be run on December 1 with the final to be run on December 8.
Len Me Dad is the defending Maitland Gold Cup champion for Ruth and Danielle Matic.
Len Me Dad after claiming the G2 Maitland Gold Cup in March