Jarrod McLean is making the most of a free hit at the Essendon Mazda 55 Second Challenge this Friday night at Moonee Valley.
The young horseman is making the trek from Warrnambool to tackle the 10th heat of the series designed to see who can become the fastest horse over the novelty 955-metre course.
McLean is in the enviable position of being the trainer of the horse who has clocked the fastest time in the nine heats to date. Waltzes went 55.62secs when he won the third heat on October 29.
Predicted warm conditions and the rail out two metres lends itself to fast times and while McLean would love to see Waltzes hold on to the fastest time, he won’t be shattered if Damien Oliver breaks it aboard Netra in Friday night’s $55,000 heat.
He’s not sure that jockey Dwayne Dunn – who partnered Waltzes to his win – will be so keen with the jockey to horse who owns the fastest time at the end of the night racing series to pocket $10,000.
“I hope if anyone breaks it it’s Netra,” McLean said. “It’s no skin off my nose if she does, but Dwayne probably wouldn’t be too happy about it.”
The trainer of the horse with the fastest time at the end of the 55 Second Challenge receives a $55,000 Mazda CX9.
Netra ran second to Sunday Rose in the first heat on September 24 and while she hasn’t figured in the finish at her past three, McLean is confident a return to the Moonee Valley short course can bring out the best in her.
The five-year-old daughter of Testa Rossa is the 57kg top weight in a race containing talented types Alittlevolcanic (56.5kg) and La Bella Roo (54.5kg), but McLean thinks the weight is partly offset by a nice barrier (four).
“Obviously she’s up in weight, but she’s carrying the number one saddlecloth because she’s the best-performer horse in the race,” he said. “I’m delighted with the draw and think she can land right on the speed and give a good sight.”
As always, the Essendon Mazda 55 Second Challenge is the fourth event and will be run at 8.15pm.
Waltzes won’t get the chance to improve his 55 Second Challenge time, but he will have the opportunity to enhance his Moonee Valley credentials later in the night.
The five-year-old will be out to make it three Moonee Valley wins from as many starts this time in the $100,000 Sportingbet Premium Handicap (1000m) at 9.15pm.
The gelding followed up his 55 Second Challenge heat win with a 1000m success on November 20, prompting McLean to give the son of Bel Esprit a crack at the likes of Broken, Global Warming, Big Spirit and Trusted Partner.
“He’s had a great prep, overall his record’s very good and he’s a horse who appreciates time between races so six weeks since his last run is no problem with us,” McLean said.
“It’s a handy field, it’s his biggest test to date and he’s also up in weight, but we’re going to be pushing forward from out there (barrier 10) and I’d say for a long way he’s going to look the winner but the swoopers will be coming.”
The 55 Second Challenge and Sportingbet Handicap are two of eight races on a big night programmed to help racing fans see in the new year. There will be a host of on-course amusements, including kids’ activities, live band and prime viewing of the fireworks in the city from 9.15pm.
The Moonee Valley Racing Club also has four dining options for those who want to celebrate the night in style.
For $175 members and members’ guests can get access to the committee room where they will receive a four-course meal, premium beverages and live entertainment until 12.30am.
The other options conclude at 10.45pm but offer great value. There is the members’ Premium Buffet Dinner for $59; the $99 Carvery Dinner – which includes three-course meal and drinks – is available to all, as is the $125 A La Carte Dinner in the Valley’s premium dining boxes.
Full details on the night’s activities and dining options are available at http://www.mvrc.net.au/
Full fields for the Moonee Valley meeting are available by clicking on the link