The trans-Tasman rivalry between heroic Warrnambool jumper Gold Medals and the never say die Kiwi Zed Em continues, as the two old foes go to war for the final time against one another in the Grand Annual Steeplechase on May 5.
Zed Em, at 11 years of age, is back in Victoria and in the throes of completing his campaign for the marathon with top trainer Patrick Payne.
Payne sent Zed Em to Warrnambool last Friday for a flat run over 2350 metres before an expected return to jumps racing in the Spencer Steeplechase at Pakenham on April 18.
"I was quite happy with Zed Em's run on the flat at Warrnambool last Friday," he said. "Zed Em came over to us in good condition from New Zealand after three flat runs there. He needed the flat run at Warrnambool. He'll tighten up a lot with the run under his belt."
Gold Medals, the reigning Grand Annual Steeplechase winner, who is in the final months of his racing career, may have one flat run for trainer Symon Wilde as a lead up to this year's Grand Annual.
The two gallant jumpers have met four times in the Grand Annual, with Gold Medals holding the wood on his arch rival on three occasions.
"I've sat back and watched the training deeds of Symon and the magnificent performances by Gold Medals," Payne said.
"It's truly remarkable what they have achieved. There have been some great and remarkable battles between Gold Medals and Zed Em in Grand Annuals and it looks like this year's race will provide another one."
Zed Em has won 13 of his 25 jumps starts and has been in the minor placegetters stall on nine occasions.
Warrnambool-trained filly Fortunate Kiss is Adelaide-bound for her next start, following an unlucky run under lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Fortunate Kiss ran fourth behind Daisies in the $200,000 group three contest over 1600 metres.
Trainer Daniel Bowman was pleased with the run of the lightly-raced filly.
"I thought she was game," Bowman said.
"She had no luck at a couple of vital stages in the race. Her racing pattern doesn't suit all courses. She's a get back early come home late filly. She doesn't need to be held up at any stage.
"I'm thinking Fortunate Kiss may have her next start in Adelaide.
"There's the $127,000 Auraria Stakes and the $107,000 Port Adelaide Cup on April 9. Both races carry black type status, which is great for her breeding prospects.
"I'm confident she'll measure up to races like that. We'll enter her for both races and make a decision once we're closer to the date."
Fortunate Kiss picked up $9000 in stakemoney for her fourth placing at the Valley.
She has now earnt more than $160,000 in prizemoney for her connections from nine starts.
Top Warrnambool trainer Lindsey Smith is gearing up a strong team of horses for this year's May Racing Carnival.
Smith could have more than 20 horses running over the three-day carnival.
Great Again, La Vina, Mystery Shot and Sacred Palace have been set for the Wangoom Handicap on the middle day of the carnival by the astute horseman, while Chantrea, Feuermond and Rudhyar could target the Warrnambool Cup on the final day.
"It looks like being a big carnival for our stable," Smith said.
"There's still a fair bit of water to go under the bridge, but, I would say at this stage, we'll have more than 20 horses nominated over the three days.
"I'm hoping we get some rain in the lead up to the carnival, as a lot of my runners like the give in the track. It's a big carnival, I've got a lot of owners who live in and around Warrnambool and they want to see their horses run at the carnival while other owners who are from away love to see their horses run at the carnival."
The Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is on May 3, 4 and 5.
FORMER Warrnambool trainer Josh Julius has booked lightweight jockey Dean Holland to ride his stable star, Just Folk, in the $3 million Doncaster Handicap at Randwick this Saturday.
Just Folk came into calculations for the Doncaster with a gutsy win in the group two Ajax Stakes at Rosehill on March 12.
The lightly-raced five-year-old was scratched from the Doncaster Prelude at Rosehill last Saturday after Just Folk had a trial over 800 metres at Warwick Farm on Friday.
"I wanted to give him a trial and it worked out good we got the trial in," Julius said.
"I was happy with his track gallop. We've booked Dean for the Doncaster ride. Dean can ride light and has ridden Just Folk previously. We should run well if the track is in the slow to heavy range. He loves those sort of conditions. We've been handicapped to carry 50kgs, which is great, but the only downside is there are a few other lightweight horses in this year's Doncaster that also love slow tracks."
The Illowa-bred Just Folk has won over $500,000 in prizemoney for his connections.
Underrated jockey Blaike McDougall will be on the sidelines for 10 meetings after pleading guilty to a careless riding charge, following his ride on Do It La at Mornington on Saturday.
McDougall's suspension starts at midnight on April 2 and ends midnight April 10.
Stewards deemed the incident to be in the mid-range before handing down its penalty.
SUPERIUM: ready to win again after consistent performances at his last few runs. He came home strongly to run second over 1200 metres on Saturday.
ROUSSEAU: showed with his impressive victory at Mornington, there's still more wins in store for the four-year-old. Trainer Chris Waller will be forced to lift the bar with Rousseau, but going by his recent form, he'll be up to the challenge.
BOTANY: huge effort at her debut to win a maiden by a short margin on Sunday. A high priced yearling she showed with that debut victory the future looks bright for Botany.
BLACK SAIL: he failed in his attempt to win three consecutive races on Sunday, having no luck in the Bairnsdale Cup. Punters who took the short odds on Black Sail were left with worthless tickets following the run but can live in hope he should win his next start in similar company.
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