Royal Assault it is
ANTHONY NUNES' ROYAL ASSAULT should use race fitness to finally beat old rival BUZZ NIGHTMARE when they clash in tomorrow's 1000-metre straight G.A. 'Sarge' Bucknor Memorial.
ROYAL ASSAULT was twice thrashed by BUZZ NIGHTMARE last year, at five furlongs round and six-and-a-half. However, the Philip Feanny-trained colt hasn't raced since January and his preparation, off a four-and-a-half month layup, suggests he should come up short against ROYAL ASSAULT, who is out for his third run this season.
After winning four consecutive races last season, BUZZ NIGHTMARE skipped open allowance to take on grade-one runners in November's Caribbean Sprint as a three-year-old. He led into the lane but found fellow three-year-old POKER STAR much improved and stayed on for fourth after being relegated.
Returning January 2, down in class among open allowance runners, BUZZ NIGHTMARE led but was again hounded by POKER STAR, who swept by him inside the final furlong. He was afterwards discovered to have bled during the event.
Though he's down in class, overnight allowance, having not won a race in open allowance in the allowed time, BUZZ NIGHTMARE could very well start favourite but might need the run to topple ROYAL ASSAULT, who has worked brilliantly for the rematch, clocking 58.4, a half-mile split of 45.3, at exercise last Saturday morning.
In contrast, BUZZ NIGHTMARE failed to go under 48.0 on the round course a week earlier, posting 48.1 in his first half-mile gallop in a while.
Both horses are drawn alongside each other, carrying 56.0 kilos apiece. The last time ROYAL ASSAULT tackled 1000 metres straight, March 9, he was caught at the wire by POTCHEEN in 57.3. He returned after that, April 13, to place third behind CAMPESINO and BRAWN at 1200 metres, setting splits of 22.2 and 45.4 into the lane before being overhauled.