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Cobalt positive for Ben Smith pair

Racing NSW have confirmed that two horses from the stable of Ben Smith have returned positive samples for excess levels of cobalt.

Smith was provisionally suspended last week after raids on his stables in Newcastle and stewards have now confirmed positives for cobalt when they won races in late August.

Maiden winner Iron Duke (Duke of Marmalade {Ire}) and Class 1 winner Elaborate (Excelebration {Ire}) tested over the allowable levels at Newcastle and Wyong respectively.

Subsequent tests were taken when the stables were raided on Tuesday September 11 but the results of those tests are not yet available.

Smith's suspension saw his two stable stars, In Her Time (Time thief) and El Dorado Dreaming (Ilovethiscity) transfer to Kris Lees stable to continue their campaigns. They have both been cleared to continue racing.

Blinkers sharpen up Vega Magic in trial

David Hayes believes the addition of blinkers will make a significant difference to Vega Magic (Lope De Vega {Ire}) in The Everest on October 13.

Vega Magic jumped out at Albury on Thursday and beat his two rivals by five lengths. The jumpout was crucial for Hayes, who co-trains the horse with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig.

"I wanted to see how we would react with the blinkers and he reacted well," Hayes told Sky Sports Radio.

Vega Magic was last seen when beaten into fourth when favourite in the G1 Memsie S. on September 1. Hayes said the gear change from blinkers to winkers from his previous start in the G3 Bletchingly S. was a significant factor in that defeat.

"He won his last start he wore them by five, I thought he was pretty impressive. I thought the other day without them on, he stargazed a little bit and that's what got him beaten," Hayes said.

He will go in to The Everest, the world's richest turf race, without another run, with Hayes to give the 6-year-old a track gallop on the course proper on the Monday before the race.

Hayes said he felt the horse who beat Vega Magic, Redzel (Snitzel), was again the biggest threat.

Racing Victoria hit back with numbers

Racing Victoria has hit back against claims Victoria is falling behind New South Wales in terms of the health of its thoroughbred racing industry by announcing its key results for the past season.

The administration of racing in Victoria has been under scrutiny in recent months with Racing NSW boosting prizemoney having already introduced Australia's richest race, The TAB Everest.

Prominent owner Nick Williams this week accused Racing Victoria of having 'an absolute lack of leadership' and suggested RV needed to be dismantled.

But Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson rubbished suggestions that Victoria was losing a prizemoney war while celebrating a growth in both wagering and field sizes.

"The depth and quality of our racing has continued to fuel the growth in wagering and we're particularly pleased to be the only state which grew average field sizes over the season, whilst delivering record prizemoney for our participants," he said.

Turnover on Victorian racing reached $6.42 billion last season, an increase of 2.7 per cent, while metropolitan field sizes increased to 10.7 starters.

Prizemoney will rise to $228.5m in prizemoney for the 2018-2019 season, up from $173m four years ago.

The one concern that Thompson conceded he did have was the 6.4 per cent drop in pari-mutuel turnover.

Pendant draw a worry

Gerald Ryan is thrilled with the condition of Magic Alibi (Star Witness), but disappointed she will have to jump from the outside barrier in the G2 JHB Syndications Golden Pendant at Rosehill on Saturday.

“She’s going really well, but barrier 11 isn’t ideal and she only just gets 1400 metres,” he said. “Back on top of the ground will suit her though.”

Magic Alibi did well to finish equal third when resuming on rain-affected going in the Sheraco S., earlier this month.

Ryan is also expecting a bold showing from Harper’s Choice (Street Cry {IRE}) over the 2400 metre journey of the G3 JRA Trophy.

“He’s back up to his right trip, he’s on his home track and he’s done well,” he said.

“He’s on the back-up and I’ve only done that with him once before and he won, that was after eight days and this will be nine.”

Harper’s Choice, who ran second in the 2016 G1 Australian Derby, finished a last-start fifth in the G3 Newcastle Cup.

Zayats, Coolmore, Frankel Team Up

Old Glory (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), the 2017 Goffs Orby Yearling Sale topper at €1.6 million, scored impressively on debut at Naas on Wednesday.

The colt is owned by Zayat Stables in partnership with Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. Aidan O'Brien's trainee ran in the Zayat colours made famous around the world by American Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (USA).

“We’re delighted. He’s a lovely horse I’d say to win first time like that, as he’ll come forward plenty. We’d like to go steady and we won’t overdo it, so the seven-furlong race (1400m) at Leopardstown [the Oct. 20] G3 Killavullan S. or something like that will do. He’s a horse that will stay much further than seven," commented O'Brien after the race.

Bred in England, born in Japan, winner at Lismore

New Horizons' (Jpn) (Frankel {GB}) cosmopolitan career added another postcode on Thursday when the 5-year-old won a Class 1 race over 1300m at Lismore.

New Horizons was the second Frankel ever to run in Australia, but the grand ambitions for the Waratah Thoroughbreds product haven’t quite materialised.

Starting his career with Darren Weir, he has been to John O'Shea and John Thompson before landing at the Brisbane stables of Chris Meagher.

Meagher has now guided him to two wins in three starts, including his latest win, which was by half a length.

Out of Canadian G1 winner Miss Keller, he was bred in England, but foaled in Japan before coming to Australia as a yearling,

Avantage back on track

Last season’s champion 2-year-old Avantage (Fastnet Rock) will make her seasonal debut in Saturday’s G3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail S., at Hastings and she’s ready to shine.

Trainer Jamie Richards said the G1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce S., winner has been working well and with the benefit of a trial and an exhibition gallop he was more than happy with her condition.

She currently shares pre-post favouritism for November’s G1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas with Melt (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}).

The Gold Trail is the opening event in the race for the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series.

It is made up of 10 Group races, over distances ranging from 1200 to 2400 metres, between September and March.

The New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year winner will earn her connections NZ$50,000 in bonus cheques, including NZ$10,000 for her breeder, NZ$10,000 for her trainer and NZ$30,000 for her owner.

Busy weekend for Pike

Tony Pike will be well-represented at the feature meetings on Saturday and at Pukekohe Park on Sunday.

"August was extremely wet and we only had three runners, but we had plenty trial up at Te Teko and Cambridge getting ready," Pike said.

"We've got a big weekend ahead and while the majority of them will improve ahead of their main spring aims, we're expecting to see them run well. We've got seven in at Riccarton and we've just tried to split them up."

Heading the Riccarton team are Wekaforce (NZ) (Showcasing {GB}) and Luvlucy (NZ) (Sweet Orange {USA}) in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle S.

“The two fillies we've got down there probably wouldn't have been quite competitive enough with Avantage and Melt in the north so we've tried to target black-type down there and hopefully they can continue to improve to be Guineas contenders,” Pike said.

“Wekaforce did plenty of work last time to get across from the wide gate, but she fought well and was beaten by a very good filly. That Melt form has been franked and this should be a bit easier.

“We rode Luvlucy quietly and she closed the race off nicely. Up in distance and racing on the big roomy Riccarton track will help her. They are both bringing that Melt form and I'd be disappointed if they didn't go well.”

The G1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas is also the target for Stella Noire (NZ) (Showcasing), who tackles Saturday's the G3 Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings. She will be looking to turn her form around after a below par performance when resuming.

Sir Charles Road chasing Cup berth

New Zealand stayer Sir Charles Road (Myboycharlie {IRE}) can fast track himself into a spring feature when he steps out at Caulfield on Saturday.

The G3 East Malvern Bendigo Bank MRC Foundation Cup (2000m) offers the winner ballot-exempt status for next month's G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

The versatile five-year-old gelding won the Gr.2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) in the autumn and also placed in the G1 Sydney Cup (3200m). However, he's currently 53rd on the order of entry for the Caulfield Cup and 47th for the G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).

“I thought if he measures up here, the Caulfield Cup would be the ideal race for him. He is a fast staying horse and probably better suited to the mile and-a-half than the two miles,” co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan said.

“I think we need to see how he performs on Saturday and how he comes through it. You’d like to see him run well. After that we will discuss it further with his owner David Archer and make a plan.”