Triple threat! - Hovercraft, Perfect Neighbour, Dysfunctional to shine for Dacosta on Saturday
CHAMPION trainer Wayne DaCosta has a three-card trick up his sleeve – HOVER CRAFT, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and DYSFUNCTIONAL – taking on two rivals in Saturday’s 10-furlong Governor General’s Stakes, which WILL IN CHARGE opted out of at scratch time, throwing the race wide open and ripe for a mild upset.
The DaCosta trio are up against SUPERLUMINAL and HOUDINI’S MAGIC, who will need more than a magic wand to stay 10 furlongs with topweight 126lb, especially with super-fit DYSFUNCTIONAL 16lb lighter and with nothing at stake on the headline.
Paying a heavy toll for his 24-1 Chairman’s Trophy victory on a lightning-fast track, HOUDINI’S MAGIC inherited topweight as this year’s only grade one winner in the event. Lightweight jockey Wesley Henry has won memorable races from in front aboard the six-year-old gelding but never with topweight, worse going two turns.
SUPERLUMINAL, though, is somewhat of a specialist at 10 furlongs, his most famous being a St Leger victory over derby winner SEEKING MY DREAM three years ago. The six-year-old rebounded to form, two races off a four-month lay-up, with a strong overnight allowance victory over useful DONTAE, going his signature distance on August 6.
SUPERLUMINAL skipped class 19 days later and bravely took his chances against WILL IN CHARGE in the Prime Minister’s Stakes, again at 10 furlongs, but was outclassed by the much-improved five-year-old, who allowed him 16lb and literally toyed with him the entire trip.
Returning at 119lb, SUPERLUMINAL sits level with PERFECT NEIGHBOUR who he had beaten by three-quarter length for second behind WILL IN CHARGE. They were also level at 110lb that afternoon but PERFECT NEIGHBOUR was slowly away from the gate.
Whereas SUPERLUMINAL will have to take his chances on the lead where he prefers running, he will have HOUDINI’S MAGIC and DYSFUNCTIONAL to contend with, leaving him open to DaCosta’s two closers – PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and the most intriguing of the lot, HOVER CRAFT.
Sneaking in under the handicaps, HOVER CRAFT is no 10-furlong specialist but will get at least 14lb from HOUDINI’S MAGIC and seven each from PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and SUPERLUMINAL, making him the fly in the ointment.
The eight-year-old gelding flew home at odds of 15-1 to beat sprinters at five furlongs straight two weeks ago, albeit returning off a near four-month play-up, carrying 126lb to boot, winning the event in 57.2, nailing speedy CRUCIAL APPEAL at the wire.
The last time HOVER CRAFT faced slowly declining PERFECT NEIGHBOUR was March, in the Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy, at nine furlongs and 25 yards, losing by a half-length, getting 14lb from his stablemate. PERFECT NEIGHBOUR had to fight tooth and nail to stave off DONTAE and HOVER CRAFT, who actually led the event.
With that recent blow-out victory under his girth and getting seven pounds from SUPERLUMINAL and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, horses who he has extended in two-turn races before, makes HOVER CRAFT an enticing choice to upstage the specialists at a decent price.