Costa Rolfe



Heath set to play host to Ghaanati party

Costa's Racing Odyssey

Saturday’s winter racing has thrown up a couple of very interesting runners across the country (the good kind of throwing up, not the “If any more of Carlton’s key defenders get injured I will deadest spew up!” type).

The first is Unusual Culture, who tackles the first in Melbourne (as per the headline, ‘Heath’ is a reference to Caulfield, not some guy called Heath throwing together a hastily convened race meeting. Although I’m sure he’d be a hospitable host, racing is not yet ready for Heath’s festive vision).

Competitive in stakes grade in New Zealand, this Maher and Eustace-trained filly was purchased by an Ozzie Kheir-led syndicate, having been bred and initially raced by the Auret family, who run Letham Stud (where this filly’s sire, Unusual Suspect, now stands).

Kheir, John O’Neill and co have had considerable success buying fillies out of New Zealand in recent years – think Verry Elleegant, Sierra Sue and more recently Yonce – and Unusual Culture could easily be a horse to follow those mares into a higher grade. Of even more interest is Ghaanati, the daughter of Deep Impact and half-sister to Pride Of Dubai who belted her rivals at Flemington recently on debut.

This girl left a profound impression at ‘Headquarters’ – especially given the fact that she belied the generally accepted notion that Deep Impacts are best left unraced until three – and she is highly likely to be odds-on.

Although before we get too carried away, beware the unraced two-year-old brigade, and beware a 16-horse field first look at Caulfield. There is one smart-looking debutant in He’s Heaven who could prove the one to test Ghaanati. He’s a Zoustar colt out of the Group One-winning mare Lights Of Heaven, and like her is trained by Peter Moody. He has been slick in a couple of Pakenham jumpouts.

At Eagle Farm, Uncommon James makes a long-awaited return in the second on the card. He was very impressive in winning two of his three starts this time last year including a two-year-old stakes race. Bred and owned by co-trainer Matt Hoysted’s wife Caitlin, he suffered a serious hock injury which has kept him out for 12 months and comes off a recent Doomben trial win.

After reading Bren O’Brien’s tale about the American blueblood V J Day, I will also be watching the ‘Battle of the Bush Final’ a few races later with great interest. Rarely has a horse covered so much distance in a float, let alone made the trip from Kentucky to outback Queensland! Go well, V J.

As for the Tatt’s Tiara? Hmmmm. A typically tough mares race but at around the $16-mark, Kris Lees’ Wandabaa could be worthy of an each-way play. She’s been very good at her last two – matching motors with good old ‘Special K’ Kementari in the run to the line last time here over 1200m – and the middle draw should ensure she can find galloping room at the top of the straight.




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