Cartel locked and loaded for War Zone sprint
CARTEL won bouncing away from rivals on Diamond Mile Day, completing back-to-back victories in an improved manner, which suggested it is not beyond him to defy topweight in tomorrow's War Zone Sprint, a 1200-metre Grade Three event.
Formerly trained by Philip Feanny, CARTEL appears every bit a late bloomer, whose turnaround in form coincided with being administered lasix for his fifth start in early August.
After two brilliant six-furlong workouts, late October and early November, 1:13.2 and 1:14.0, respectively, CARTEL won at seven and six-and-a-half furlongs, the Diamond Mile Day victory for his new trainer, Paul Charlton, being a massive 26-1 upset on his non-winners-of-three debut.
Being one of three runners in the event to have beaten non-winners-of-three, CARTEL shares topweight 57.0 kilos with run-on sprinter MALACHI, giving weight to the likes of AKASH, BALAZO, plus speedy fillies, DON'T BLUSH BABE, TOOT THE BLUES and A.P.I.
Though he has picked up 16lb from his Diamond Day win, CARTEL's connections have decided to keep faith with Jerome Innis, who lost his bug two racedays ago and won't be able to claim, now classified as a non-claiming apprentice.
The race, however, could still set up nicely for CARTEL, comparing his winning time on Diamond Mile Day, 1:19.2, with BALAZO and KILLER BEE's second- and third-place finishes the same day behind LOOSE CANNON, a five-and-a-quarter length winner in 1:18.3.
A consistent 1:20-and-fraction horse, BALAZO barely dipped below his best time, possibly because he was dragged by out-of-class LOOSE CANNON on a fast track.
On the other hand, CARTEL won convincingly, making rapid headway off the turn to pounce on splits being set by LIGHTNING LILY and A.P.I., 23.0, 45.4 and 1:11.3, similar to the 23.0, 46.0 and 1:11.1 LOOSE CANNON stalked and took over.
Anthony Nunes stablemates, A.P.I. and BALAZO, appear to be CARTEL's main threats. Expect A.P.I. on the lead and BALAZO holding. However, A.P.I. could have the likes of ARTHUR'S DREAM, DON'T BLUSH BABE, TOOT THE BLUES and up-in-class K D FLYER for company.
CARTEL relished racing just off the pace last time out and showed great acceleration when asked to pick it up, dismissing A.P.I., and LIGHTNING LILY, mid-race speed that could leave BALAZO and MALACHI flat-footed, too much ground to make up before the post intervenes.