BOXING DAY was no test for the Gwenda Johnstone stable as its five-year-old gelding Pravro bolted in the $60,000 Ladbrokes Odds Boost Hcp over 1100m at Caulfield.
Now the stable is back on its home track it is expecting more big results with Michael Johnstone declaring Phantom Eagle his best bet of the day.
It will be ridden by Caulfield Cup winning jockey Cory Parish and Johnstone said he expected it to be a winner.
However, Pravro won’t be backing up his Caulfield win at the Echuca racecourse – he has now been set for Flemington on January 13.
“Pravro had two runs at Moonee Valley a week apart – he came third in the first run and then fifth in the second,” Johnstone said.
“He just didn’t back up on the short rest so we put him out for a couple of weeks before Caulfield and he looked a different horse,” he said.
“He jumped well, settled back in the field and when he got his chance for a run took off and was running away when they hit the line.”
As well as Phantom Eagle Johnstone said the stable also had New Kintaro, Check our Enemy and Strangest Dream starting or waiting for a slot.
Check Our Enemy, which will also be ridden by Parish, will run in the $20,000 last of the day.
The Gaskin/Cornish stable also has two runners on the day, with Gone to Mollymook in the third and Left Jaybee Out in the fifth.
Donna Gaskin said Left Jaybee Out, a last start winner at Echuca, is a horse with a lot of upside.
The lightly raced four-year-old mare has had seven starts for two wins and two placings.
“It won at Echuca first up and won well and we are pretty confident she will be about the mark in this one too,” Gaskin said.
“Lee Smith rode that win, and has been doing a lot of work with us, so we have been happy to give him the ride again this weekend,” she said.
“There is a bit of speed in this race and that will suit us because she is a bit of a speedster herself and when she jumps well she wants to go.”
Gone to Mollymook is a slightly different story and Gaskin said the run would be good experience for the three-year-old gelding.
She said the horse was still learning and the experience would be good for him – although he is likely to be spelled after the run.
The powerful Hayes/Dabernig stable is also coming to town with four runners.
Its racing manager Rayan Moore said they always looked to have starters at Echuca even though they do not have a lot of luck here.
“However, we hope to turn that around this weekend with Alnaas starting in the $22,000 De Bortoli Wines Maiden Plate over 1600m – the first race of the day,” Moore said.
“We reckon this three-year-old filly will be pretty hard to beat – she placed at her last two starts and we know she is ready to win,” he said.
“From there we expect to be able to move her onto some bigger races, probably in town.”
Moore said he was also hopeful Talent School might make it a winning double when it starts in the second on the card, the $22,000 Echuca Newsagency Maiden Plate over 1400m.
The horse finished fourth at Cranbourne in its first start and Moore said it will be improved by that outing.
He said it hit the line well and looked promising.
“We also have Estrella Fella in the third (the $22,000 1PRINT Maiden Plate over 1170m) and have a lot of faith in this lightly raced gelding,” Moore added.
“He has had three starts for two seconds so is also thereabouts.”
The stable’s final runner of the day, Beewanted, will be going around against Estrella Fella. It is having its first race start and Moore suggested it will need the run.
“This horse is bred for 1400m to 1600m so this might be a little short for her and it is a big field of 17 starters but it will be good to see how she goes.”
Other local runners include Jim Lake’s Rose of Capri in the sixth and Daryl Archard’s Blue Jangles in the lucky last.