This Friday’s Cameron Handicap at Newcastle sees top-weight Hooked out to become the first horse in forty-six years to win consecutive Cameron Handicaps. Without Reproach won the ’69 and ’70 renewals and if Hooked is to emulate the feat, will need to carry 59kgs to victory – 3.5kgs more than his assigned weight in last year’s race. Running second to Hooked last year was Rugged Cross whose trainer, Chris Waller, will be hoping to go one better this year with I’m Imposing, Flamingo Star and Saddler’s Lake all entered and rating chances. If successful with Saddler’s Lake, it will continue a great run of late for Waller and the Ingham family whose cerise colours have been carried to victory by Catkins and Japonisme in Group races over the past month.
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1. HOOKED – T Angland (9) 59kgs
Shot to the lead from a widest draw when resuming in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) and defied all challengers to register a half-length win over Ecuador. Winner of this race last year after finishing seventh in the Tramway and despite being assigned an extra 4.5kgs compared to last year’s victory, has to be considered a top contender off of the first up performance.
2. ECUADOR – J Parr (6) 57kgs
The 6yo gelding secured a lovely run behind leader and eventual winner of the Tramway Stakes (1400m) Hooked, when contesting the G2 race first up from a three month break a fortnight ago. Had his opportunity in the straight but despite falling half a length short, made the winner dig deep late. Will only be better for that run and again, a 2kg difference separates he and Hooked.
3. FLAMINGO STAR – J Bowman (8)
Also contested the Tramway Stakes first up from a spell where, from his inside draw, he settled three back on the fence. The imported galloper had his chance closer to the fence in the run home as those in front of him drifted to the centre of the track and although the fence may have not been the ideal position on the day, did expect to see a bit more from him late. Ran a close second to Strawberry Boy in a Listed mile race at Doomben earlier this year when also second up, and could be a sharp improver.
4. I’M IMPOSING – J McDonald (3) 57kgs
Got a long way back from his wide barrier draw when resuming in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago but his effort late, in a leader dominated race, to run ninth (5.3 length) was very pleasing given the conditions. It was a big ask first up over a mile but one that will serve him well here give the benefit he takes out of it combined with the 2kgs drop in weight.
Will be steaming home late
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5. MALICE – (4) 54kgs
Resumed from a five month spell in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) but found nothing from his midfield position on the turn, falling back through the field to run last of the fourteen runners. The only excuse that could be offered was the track’s soft (6) rating – he’s only placed twice from seven starts on effected tracks, compared to a very healthy record on dry. Even on a firmer surface tough, the Godolphin runner has to produce a dramatic form reversal.
6. SENSE OF OCCASION – T Clark (1) 54kgs
Settled a touch worse than midfield on the fence as the field approached the turn in the G2 Tramway Stakes a fortnight ago – his first run since finishing a narrow second in the G2 Brisbane Cup back in June. He struggled to improve that position though and finished eleventh (4.3 lengths) behind Hooked. He’ll improve, but so will those he meets from Tramway again here and would prefer to see him over something longer again.
7. WOULDN’T IT BE NICE – T Huet (11) 54kgs
Locally trained galloper who failed to make an impression from the back of the field when seventh of nine (7.8 lengths) behind Shiraz in the G3 Concorde Stakes at his most recent start. Back up to 1500m here is quite a jump and his last three victories have all been at double figure odds, proving he is a hard horse to catch at the best of times.
8. SADLER’S LAKE – J Cassidy (10) 54kgs
Tracked up behind the leaders in strong fashion when resuming in a BM 85 (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago and when the run opened on the fence at the 300m, the Chris Waller trained galloper took it well. He went on to win by a comfortable 2 length win with Forget second. A promising 4yo who could not have produced more first up and although he’s up in grade here, he does carry 54kg, down 5.5kgs on last start and likely to measure up.
9. BEST CASE – B Avdulla (7) 54kgs
The back-maker was winding up well late when resuming from a spell last month in the G3 Show County (1200m), finishing ninth (1.9 length) behind Decision Time. That race favoured those closer to the speed and he has been kept up to he make since with a good barrier trial effort over 1200m. Has been raced sparingly since a promising 3yo season but still yet to register a win in Group or Stakes level and couldn’t say with any confidence he’ll be able to run this lot down.
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10. ADOREBEEL – (2) 54kgs
Sat second and was holding his ground at his most recent start, a BM 95 (1500m), but was squeezed out between runners at the 200m and he finished fifth of six (2 lengths) behind Foreign Prince. Whilst he couldn’t finished closer last start with clear running, wouldn’t be sure he was going to win and to be successful here – would need to be winning races like that.
11. FORGET – K McEvoy (13) 54kgs
Kim Waugh’s 6yo is racing so consistently, winning three of his last six and finishing in the top five twelve of his past fifteen outings. He was scrubbed up into the turn his most recent start, a BM 85 (1400m) at Randwick, and was challenging at the furlong before his big weight of 60kgs, combined with the soft track, told late, keeping him in second spot behind Sadler’s Lake. Gets down to 54kgs and although drawn wide, with what should be a good pace in the race, it may be that he can overcome it.
12 – SCRATCH ME LUCKY – (5) 54kgs
Very familiar scenario in his past few starts whereby the 4yo gelding gets back in the run, finishing well, but just outside of the place-getters. He finished fourth in four consecutive races before running sixth (4.6 lengths) behind Farolitos in a BM 80 (1600m). Hearn’s Oak come out of the race, a winner last week, but this is a field of good depth and for him to have a chance at winning it, he’d need a wet track.
13. LUCKY IMA CUGAT – P King (12) 54kgs
The 7yo gelding won a Warwick Farm BM 70 (1600m) two starts back on Heavy conditions before finishing well to claim third behind impressive winner Vanbrugh last week, in similar grade, same track and distance. He won’t find this any easier, especially from twelve and would be looking toward others.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Good speed here with Hooked and Ecuador to lead the way, and being kept honest by Adorabeel a and Sadler’s Lake. Going for a Waller win here with I’m Imposing. Thought his first up effort over a mile at WFA was good and was the perfect hit-out for this race given the drop in weight and class. Will be closely monitoring Waller’s other runners Flamingo Star who should be a sharp improver second up, drier track and Saddler’s Lake who showed plenty of ability last season and who appears to have come back better again. Ecuador and Hooked are both quality performers and as they did last start, likely to prove very hard to run down here.
1. I’M IMPOSING
4. FLAMINGO STAR