Perfect Neighbour to fly the Flag
CAUGHT in the unfamiliar position of trailing his perennial rival, Anthony Nunes, by $2.89m approaching the end of the first quarter, 16-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta has called out his old guard, eight-year-olds PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and HOVER CRAFT, for Saturday's Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy at 1820 metres.
After watching his two-year-old brigade fall woefully short in the Thornbird and Prince Consort Stakes last weekend, DaCosta's cupboard looks bare heading into next month's 1000 and 2000 Guineas, a double which he took last year with SHE'S A MANEATER and FEARLESS SAMURAI, setting up a 13th consecutive trainers' title.
With DaCosta's three-year-olds sputtering, Nunes nearly $3m out front and playing the claiming game as well, the champion trainer has been dusting off the likes of PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and HOVER CRAFT in a bid to keep pace before he unleashes SHE'S A MANEATER in the major grade one races this season.
PERFECT NEIGHBOUR has been a faithful servant since winning the Jamaica Derby in 2013 and held his form pretty well throughout the years before going a bit off the rails, especially with the emergence of stablemate SEEKING MY DREAM and Nunes' BIGDADDYKOOL.
An outright two-turn horse and strong runner out of the mile chute, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR returned off a near seven-month layup on February 28 with a strong second-place finish behind super-fit ORPHEUS, carrying topweight at 1500 metres in the King's Plate.
Since then, he has sparkled at exercise, clocking 1:13.2 for a six-furlong gallop last Saturday morning, even though outclassed by the baddest horse in the land, SHE'S A MANEATER, who stopped the clockers' watches in 1:12.4.
Considering PERFECT NEIGHBOUR was only three-fifths of a second behind SHE'S A MANEATER in that spin, roughly three lengths, it was enough confirmation of his well-being and status as a grade one horse taking on open allowance opponents in the Bonnie Blue Flag.
Patrick Lynch's ANOTHER BULLET is the closest thing to a grade-one horse in the event. Carrying 50.5 kilos, he tried to keep pace with ORPHEUS in the King's Plate but was no match up the lane and was passed by PERFECT NEIGHBOUR a half-furlong out.
Carrying 54.0 kilos and venturing at a longer distance, against a now race-fit PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, ANOTHER BULLET's chances will diminish with every extra half-furlong he runs.
HOVER CRAFT is really light at 50.0 kilos and was razor sharp when he made every post a winning one, taking out DONTAE at a mile a month ago. He is known to have sprang upsets like this in the past but will be too busy fending off the likes of UNCLE TAF and DONTAE to find extra when PERFECT NEIGHBOUR comes calling.