Friday, 3 August 2012
The shortest-priced runner of seven horses in five Canterbury races chasing winter hat-tricks could easily carry the most doubts about his chances.
Trainer Bjorn Baker admits there are distance and weight concerns about Havana Rey as the in-form galloper tries to replicate his dominance of three-year-old racing against a field of seasoned middle-distance campaigners on Saturday.
Havana Rey has led the way for Baker's Warwick Farm, boosting the New Zealand horseman's profile in the cut-throat world of Sydney horse racing.
He won three city races towards the end of the 2011-2012 season, the most recent over 1600m under 58.5kg at Warwick Farm last week.
Against a stronger Canterbury field with Tommy Berry taking over from the suspended Glyn Schofield over a distance he hasn't been able to win at, Havana Rey drops just 0.5kg.
"The weight isn't ideal but if it's an issue I suppose we'll find tomorrow," Baker said.
"As for the journey, he's been there twice and has been beaten both times so I'm not sure about the trip.
"All we can do is hope for the best."
One of Havana Rey's 1900m defeats was on a narrow scale when he was beaten in a photo by Satirical Boy.
More recently, he was beaten almost four lengths at Rosehill on June 30 before winning his next two starts when switched back to 1600m.
In spite of the obvious negatives, bookmakers are so far unwilling to gamble against Havana Rey because he is a solid $2.60 favourite to continue his winning run.
Melbourne mare Umatain is another favourite on a hat-trick after successive Canterbury 1900m midweek wins.
Trained by Clinton McDonald, the six-year-old has led both times and at $4.60 she is one of five early top betting picks to be ridden by Nash Rawiller.
Rawiller will ride the meeting's shortest-priced favourite, the Chris Waller-trained Said Com who starts out on an Epsom Handicap campaign.
He will also partner one of the best-backed, John O'Shea's proven weight carrier Number One Gun who is also on a hat-trick.
Also in line for winning hat-tricks are the three-year-olds Relaxed And Happy and Harlequin's Gold, the Bart Cummings-trained Mine To Keep and country galloper Kaypers.
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