After his superstar sprinter Hard Style Rico’s record-breaking victory in the 2020 Melbourne Cup final from Box 5, poor draws in feature finals don’t hold any fears for Luckie Karabitsakos.
Karabitsakos is hoping that will be the case at Bendigo on Sunday afternoon when superbly-bred youngster High Tribe Rico, a half-brother to Hard Style Rico, exits Box 4 in the prestigious $14,960 Jarrod Larkin Concreting Gold Rush Maiden final (425m).
A July ’20 son of super sire Fernando Bale and Bella Rico, High Tribe Rico has been impressive in strong-finishing seconds in both heat and semi-final of the $10,000 to-the-winner series.
On debut in the heats, High Tribe Rico took significant ground off another blueblood in Aston Exceed, a half-brother to former superstar Aston Rupee, in a fast 23.61sec.
Then in Wednesday afternoon’s semi-finals, he once again finished off strongly when beaten three-quarters of a length by smart 23.72sec winner Fire Hose.
Pearcedale-based owner/trainer/breeder Karabitsakos has his fingers crossed it will be a case of third time lucky in the final and High Tribe Rico can open his account in the Easter Sunday decider.
“Both his runs have been super,” he said.
“He hasn’t had much luck with his draws (Box 7 and Box 6), and he’s hasn’t had a clear run yet, but he’s been mixing it with the hustle and bustle and storming home.
“Box 4 isn’t ideal but Hard Style Rico won the Melbourne Cup from Box 5!”
“In his first start he took lengths off Aston Exceed. He closed eight lengths down to three and seeing that run got me a little bit excited.
“Then in the semi-finals he got a bit of a squeeze but finished off strongly again.
“I do rate him as a dog and with a clear run, I have no doubt he can match the times they’ve been running.”
While High Tribe Rico has to contend with another awkward alley in Sunday’s final, fastest semi winner Aston Exceed’s (23.61sec) dream run of draws has continued, with Kel Greenough’s son of Fernando Bale and Aston Miley allocated Box 1 for the third time in the series.
BENDIGO GOLD RUSH MAIDEN FINAL (425m)
Sunday, Race 7, 2.07pm – $10,000 to the winner
- ASTON EXCEED (Kel Greenough, Pearcedale)
- FIRE HOSE (Chris Tilley, Sale)
- HONESTLY TWO (Graeme Jose, Catani)
- HIGH TRIBE RICO (Luckie Karabitsakos, Pearcedale)
- BRAD MAYO (Anthony Azzopardi, Rowsley)
- UNLEASH COLLINDA (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale)
- LONG POCKET (Michael Carter, Kialla)
- I’M TALKING (Angela Galea, Sunshine North)
- ASTON KENNETT (Kel Greenough, Pearcedale)
- MADIGAN (Harry Manolitsis, Lysterfield South)
(fastest to slowest)
- Aston Exceed – 23.61sec
- Fire Hose – 23.72sec
- I’m Talking – 23.93sec
The only other undefeated finalist, Fire Hose, prepared by Chris Tilley, has drawn Box 2.
“Boxes make all the difference in these finals and Box 4 isn’t ideal but Hard Style Rico won the Melbourne Cup from Box 5!” quipped Karabitsakos, before quickly adding, “Not that I’m comparing him to Hard Style Rico.”
“On the times Aston Exceed has run and where he’s drawn, he’ll be hard to beat but if High Tribe Rico gets a clear run, he’ll give it a good crack.
“Hopefully, the Easter Bunny gives me a push!
“After this we’ll get him up over 500m. The way he’s been running home, 500m won’t be any problem at all.”
WATCH: HIGH TRIBE RICO (6), a younger brother to Melbourne Cup winner Hard Style Rico, finished strongly when second to FIRE HOSE (4) in a semi-final of the Gold Rush Maiden (425m) at Bendigo on Wednesday afternoon.
High Tribe Rico is a member of Bella Rico’s third litter, with the litter sister to Black Mumbo, winner of the 2017 G1 Harrison-Dawson for Luckie’s brother Anthony, having previous matings with Bella Infrared (Hard Style Rico) and Barcia Bale.
“There were eight in the litter, and I had four initially,” Luckie explained.
“I recently sold Adhana Rico, which won at The Meadows in 30.33sec at his second start.
“The other two I have are Sandstorm Rico, which won a maiden final at Warragul on Tuesday night, and Ravers Army, which won in 29.74sec at Sandown at his first start.
“They’ve all got ability. Is there a standout? I reckon High Tribe Rico is probably the standout but being a Fernando Bale, he’s going to take a bit of time.”
PAWNOTE: Sunday’s Bendigo meeting will also feature the $17,835 Stayers Cup (660m), headlined by Jarick Bale and Collinda Patty, $4,460 Easter Cup (500m), $4,460 Belle Of Bendigo (425m), and $4,460 Beau Of Bendigo (425m).
ASTON EXCEED is the fastest qualifier for Bendigo’s Gold Rush Maiden after a 23.61sec semi-final win.
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