All chips on Poker Star
SPRINT champion POKER STAR had much more than his ego bruised when destroyed by stablemate and Horse of the Year SEEKING MY DREAM in the Eros Trophy a month ago.
Champion trainer Wayne DaCosta said the Alexander Haber-owned four-year-old had slammed into the gate while being loaded for the 1400-metre event and should not have been allowed to start.
DaCosta said the speedster, who was highly fancied to beat SEEKING MY DREAMS in some quarters, would have run a better race were it not for his mishap at the gate, resulting in him finishing nine lengths behind his star-studded stablemate.
POKER STAR's training after the Eros Trophy appears to confirm DaCosta's revelation. It was almost a month after the July 9 incident that he gave POKER STAR his first half-mile, a cautious 49.3, followed by a zippy 59.3 for five furlongs round, a week later.
DaCosta tightened the screws two Saturdays ago and POKER STAR responded with 1:06.2 for five and a half furlongs, a death knell for his five rivals in Saturday's NoneSuch trophy at 1200 metres.
The cast is a familiar one, Philip Feanny's pair of ageing CAMPESINO, who is yet to find a way to beat POKER STAR in too many meetings to count, and his stablemate, speedy BUZZ NIGHTMARE, twice turned back by DaCosta's runner in an otherwise almost-perfect racing record.
The line-up is completed by PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and FRANFIELD, stayers who are versatile but, at six furlongs, neither will realise what hit them until the race is over.
Oh, there's also BUBBLING KITTEN, thrown in, it appears, to ensure the race goes through with minimum six runners.
Though carrying 57.0 kilos, POKER STAR is expected to match anything BUZZ NIGHTMARE attempts to spit out on the lead in what could be a Feanny tag team comprising CAMPESINO closing for the kill.
The Feanny stablemates tried similar tactics earlier this year in January's St Catherine Cup at 1100 metres but were still outclassed by topweight POKER STAR, who overhauled BUZZ NIGHTMARE, 50.0 kilos, before staving off a charging CAMPESINO.
Though CAMPESINO is in receipt of 14lb from POKER STAR on Saturday, his light appears to be fading a bit at age six after being brushed aside by NUCLEAR AFFAIR in the Seek Exercise Book Trophy three weeks ago.