By Jonny Turner
Trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis will roll out a big team packed with winning chances at Winton on Thursday.
The training partners have nine runners spread across seven races at the first meeting Southland meeting away from Ascot Park since lockdown.
Few of Barclay and Ellis’ team deserve a win more than Rocknroll King, who clashes with Burlington and Prodigal Guinness on the back of three second placings.
The way the former Canterbury pacer has worked leading in to race 9 suggests there is no reason he can not put in another big effort.
“He is just going good honest races, there are a couple of Canterbury ones in there, but he will go a good race again,” Barclay said.
“We don’t do much with him, we just try to keep him happy.”
“And whatever we are doing seems to be working, so we are not changing anything.”
Barclay and Ellis have a three-pronged attack on race 10 with Betterthanbrie, Cab Calloway and Lite Percussion.
Barclay said there was little between the trio, who clash with Robyns Shadow, Maximus Prost and Folklore.
“To be honest I couldn’t actually split them – it depends on who gets what run.”
“Betterthanbrie needs to be on the pace doing it, so [barrier] 2 should suit her.”
“Lite Percussion has drawn 8, so he is going to have to go back in and look for a trip.”
“And Cab Calloway – it is his first start for quite a while – but I was really happy with his run at the workouts the other day.”
“So they are all very capable, but it will just come down to the kind of run they get.”
Impressive first up winner Madrik will attempt to bounce back to form after doing things wrong in his last two starts.
Going by his work, the horse is taking the right attitude in to race 5.
“He seems really good, I was really happy with him at the workouts the other day,” Barclay said.
“He is growing, so if it goes wrong we might look to give him a spell.”
“I sort of get a surprise every time I take his cover off it looks like he has popped up again.”
“He has got all the ability in the world, he might just need more time.”
Madrik’s older half brother, Smokin Bander, starts for Barclay and Ellis in race 1.
The 5yr-old beat home his sibling in a Winton workout last week, which looks strong form going in to a maiden race.
“I really love that horse, but last season he was a bugger for pacing off the mark.”
“Touch wood – he trotted off the mark really well at the workouts – but race day pressure is always a little bit different.”
“If he could trot away and do things right I think he is a really strong show.”
Barclay must negotiate barrier 1 on the second row when she drives Ride In A Concorde in race 2 and Hampton in race 8.
The usually tricky draw is not necessarily bad news for the latter.
“I think that is a good draw for Hampton, because he does have a good turn of foot.”
Ride In A Concorde was very unlucky in her last start at Ascot Park, going to the line hard held when seventh behind Rock Legend.
“She is a funny wee thing to drive, she was a bit flat before the bend and then when she went to the line she had heaps left in the tank,” Barclay said.
“She has worked well since then, but it will depend on what kind of runs she gets from the draw.”
Mac Attack has one of the best draws among the Barclay and Ellis team in barrier 1 in race 4.
The 4yr-old looks to have an excellent opportunity to put notch the first placing of his short career from the ace alley.
“I was really happy with him at the workouts last week, he did a few things wrong but he finished off really well – probably the best he ever has,” Barclay said.
“He ran a half [800m] in 57sec and still had a bit left in the tank.”
“I think it is a good draw for him, hopefully he doesn’t end up too far back along the inside.”