Veteran Warrnambool trainer Merv McKenzie may bypass the Warrnambool May carnival with Big Reel after the speedy sprinter won a 1000-metre race at Ladbrokes park last Wednesday.
Big Reel defeated Kyzamba and Josephine Sea in the $50,000 benchmark 84 on the Hillside track.
“I was considering running him at the carnival but I’m weighing up other options following his win at Sandown,” McKenzie said.
“There was a race on the opening day and one on the last at the carnival but on the other hand there’s a nice race at Flemington and one at Caulfield.
“I’ll see how things pan out with the horse over the next few days before making a decision.
“He’s had three runs back in from a long spell and is in great shape. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Tennielle Onyett and Mark Warren — they do a lot of the work with Big Reel. He can be a very difficult horse to handle but they’re aware of his hang-ups.”
The seven-year-old has won seven of his 28 starts and picked up $158,870.
King’s career curtailed
Last-start Warrnambool jumps winner King of the Forest has been retired after sustaining an injury to his off-front knee.
King of the Forest won a restricted steeplechase at Warrnambool on March 14 and was being set for the Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank this Saturday and the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase on May 2.
Four-time Grand Annual-winning jockey David “Butch” Londregan, who trained King of the Forest, is disappointed the 10-year-old will not be at either carnival.
“King of the Forest knocked his leg in the paddock,” he said. “I’m just glad he didn’t get injured in a race.
“He was a good winner last time at Warrnambool and was on track to be a chance in both races. I was quietly confident.
“He was a tough jumper who gave his connections plenty of fun.
“I’ll end up finding him a good home for the rest of his days.”
From his 33 jumps starts King of the Forest notched three wins and 10 minor placings including a third in the 2017 Brierly Steeplechase.
Braidon on the mend
Popular Warrnambool jumps jockey Braidon Small is recovering in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital following a fall from Startierra in a hurdle at Racing.com Park last Sunday.
Small travelled back to Warrnambool following the race but was admitted to Southwest Healthcare after complaining of headaches to wife Amy.
Victorian Jockeys Association executive officer Matt Hyland said Small had been operated on for bleeding on the brain on Monday morning at the Alfred and was resting following the operation.
Lucques leads Muz team
Respected trainer Eric Musgrove will take a quality team of jumpers including Mr One Eleven and Lucques to the coming Warrnambool carnival.
Mr One Eleven won a restricted hurdle while Lucques took out the time-honoured Bourke Hurdle at Racing.com Park last Sunday.
Musgrove will set Mr One Eleven for the champion novice hurdle at Warrnambool on May 2. Lucques runs in the Galleywood Hurdle the previous day.
“Both horses were very impressive on Sunday,” Musgrove said.
“They came into work early with the Galleywood and champion novice hurdle as their main goals.
“Mr One Eleven was inexperienced last year but he’s come into work a lot stronger this year. He’s now won his last two and the champion novice hurdle looks the obvious race for him.
“Lucques is a tough, honest jumper who keeps on improving. He’s building up a nice record, winning his last three jumps races.
“The only downside to him might be that he’s not really good on wet tracks — that’s why we wanted to target the early jumps races with him.”
Musgrove hopes to have at least three jumpers running at Oakbank on Easter Saturday.
Anne races time with ’Tone
Popular Orford trainer jumper Mannertone could run on the flat in this Sunday’s Penola Cup as a lead-in to a restricted steeplechase at Warrnambool on May 1.
Mannertone ran ninth in a flat race at Mount Gambier last Friday as part of his preparation for the jumps season.
Trainer Anne McGrath said she had faced a race against time to have Mannertone ready for Warrnambool.
“He’s just had a couple of minor issues but he’s over them,” McGrath said. “I’d thought of running in the Brierly on the first day but the restricted ’chase looks a better option.
“The issues might be a blessing in disguise because I want to have Mannertone running in the steeplechases at Casterton later in the season.”
From his 95 starts Mannertone has won $325,674.