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The Jumpguru

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March Preview
March is looking exciting! There are 17 jumps events scheduled - 5 in SA and 12 in Victoria.

Jim Houlahan's team is firing at the moment with Moon Chase & Planet Hollywood winning on the flat at lucrative odds. He also has top hurdler Angler Parade racing enthusiastically and the promising Melos preparing to win over the obstacles. I guess Jim wants to make a point that in 1999, the Year of the Aged Person, he can have the best strike rate of any trainer in the land.

For your reference, the planned March jumping dates are as follows:
Vic: 2nd, 6th (2 events), 11th, 13th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 27th & 31st.
SA: 3rd, 10th, 13th, 17th & 24th.

Coming Up in 1999

Australian jumps racing promises to be bigger & better in 1999. Increased prizemoney for many of the feature events, plenty of class animals heading over the brush including Australia's best chaser, Palace Symphony, Hiskens Steeplechase winner, Maybe Rough, Flemington specialist & Melbourne Cup Day Hurdle winner, Bright Spot, as well as veteran frontrunner, Burrowye Lord.

jump3.jpg (17912 bytes)My bouquets to the Australian Jumps Racing Assoc & particularly to the RSPCA for acting so proactively in implementing new yellow sighter lines on many hurdles. The new coloured lines are more apparent to horses jumping at speed and have assisted in making an inherently dangerous sport much safer for all concerned. Let's hope this season is as safe for horse & jumps jockey as was 1998.

Hot Cross Buns are already in some of the shops (a bit desperate really), signalling the return to the track of the aspirants for the Oakbank Easter Carnival in South Australia. Hurdle & steeplechase trials will be run on the 22 & 29 March. The 29/3/99 trials will be an excellent leadup to the carnival the following weekend, with leading stables always represented.

For your information, there are only a few jumping dates this early in the season. Planned dates for jumping events in February 1999 are as follows:

Tues 9/2, Wed 10/2, Wed 17/2, Sat 20/2, Wed 24/2, Sat 27/2 & Sun 28/2/99.

The small number of events in February will be just a taste of jumping action in comparison to March (17), April (22), May (24), June (29) & July (26).

Go here for a complete list of track records for all tracks that run hurdle races.

10 Horses to Follow for 1999

1. Silver Metal Trainer - Eric Musgrove
Won the 1998 MJ Bourke Hurdle at Pakenham on debut as a raging 4/7 favourite, beating his opposition easily. The most recent hurdler to make their debut over jumps at such prohibitive odds was The Shu. Silver Metal has all the right credentials to be a class hurdler, and his 1998 Warrnambool Galleywood Hurdle victory was extra impressive as he hadn't raced for a month due to a setback. It should be remembered that in the Galleywood, Silver Metal beat class jumpers, Maybe Rough & Jonesey's Flyer.

2.  Noble Colony Trainer - Peter Hayes
Sir Tristram 4yo with good flat staying credentials, particularly on firm tracks. Has a total of 7 wins and more than $110K accumulated prizemoney. Is a Flemington winner over 2000m on the flat in December 1997 and could aim for the Nationals. Remember to avoid the heavy tracks with Noble Colony.

3. Prince Keystone Trainer - Peter Hayes
4yo by Covetous who was ultra consistent over jumps and on the flat in 1998. Is probably the best maiden jumper in Australia. Prince Keystone finished a close 2nd to Down To Zero at Oakbank in a 1998 trial hurdle. Normanby Road and Le Melezin finished 3rd & 4th in that event and both have performed creditably since which adds credence to this galloper's talent. I suspect that Prince Keystone doesn't peak on wet tracks.

4. Kingston Dream Trainer - RE Laing
Was not well suited around the turning Werribee track on debut over jumps, but this huge galloper (in stature) won impressively for Jason Evans. Was under pressure 1000m out in the 1998 Lachal Hurdle (Flemington-3246m-good), but forged home to defeat Jonesey's Flyer & Moon Chase. This imposing stayer forged home to win the 1998 SAJC GN Hurdle indicating that he has a future over staying journeys on spacious tracks. Should make the transition to steeplechasing well. Prefer firm tracks.

5. Melos Trainer - JJ Houlahan
Star Way youngster who looked very well suited over hurdles on the rain affected going at Moe in June 98, but the meeting was abandoned due to heavy rain. Raced & won on Monday 6/7/98 at Mornington on the flat and backed up 3 days later for his jumping debut at Werribee. Melos won with ease. Very lightly raced, but looks like he wants to be the genuine article.

6. Marlborough Trainer - JJ Houlahan
Good class 6yo city flat galloper by Zabeel who has won 6 flat events from 1600 to 1800m. Can be followed on all types of track conditions although 5 of his wins have been recorded on good tracks. Won convincingly at his jumping debut in the 1998 Moe Cup Day Hurdle. Heavily backed in the 1998 Melbourne Cup Day Hurdle, but over raced in the lead. Showed plenty of potential & will be a more mature hurdler in 1999.

7. Bright Spot Trainer - Terry Whitford
Good class stayer on the flat, best suited over journeys of 2500m+ who has an affinity with Flemington. Dead heat winner on the flat of the 1997 Group 2 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (8/11/97-good-2500m) finishing with Vita Man. Prior to that was beaten less than 3L in the 1997 Geelong Cup and was also placed at Caulfield (11/10/97-2400m-good) behind Bonsai Pipeline in Group 2 company. Prefers some pace in his races and can be followed on the more spacious tracks. Looks ideally suited for a 1999 VRC Grand National Hurdle campaign, and is yet to miss a placing over jumps.

8. Ballyleon Trainer - BT Howe
7yo gelding by Ballyman's Boy who raced on the flat in NSW & southern Queensland as a younger horse. Howe is an astute trainer and interestingly, Ballyleon almost landed a substantial betting plunge on his hurdle debut after only a single flat run in Victoria. Finished strongly from last at Flemington to just miss beating Cranko. Prefers firm tracks and seems to peak quickly in a preparation.

9. Raise A Count Trainer - Tony Vasil
Good quality former ACT based flat galloper. This 8yo by Majaahed settled off the pace at Werribee (4/8/98-2800m-dead) when making his debut over hurdles and was suited by the fast pace. Finished hard from well back and beat Opal Flyer at level weights. Should improve on larger tracks like Flemington, Geelong or Sandown.

10. Title Roll Trainer - Graeme Rogerson
Consistent prizemoney cheque earning 6yo Concert Dancer gelding who has been extremely lightly raced. Improved for his second jumping preparation in late 1998. Is well suited over short course hurdles (<3200m) and possesses a burst of superior acceleration, uncommon in many hurdlers. Beaten by the most promising Marlborough in the 1998 Moe Cup Day Hurdle. Is the current track record holder over the sharp 2700m hurdle distance at Morphettville in SA.

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