Monday 24 September, 2018

Poker Star to return to winning ways

Last year's sprint champion POKER STAR should return to the winners’ enclosure for the first time in more than a year when he faces six rivals in Saturday’s 1200-metre Thoroughbred Racing Hall-of-Fame Stakes - his fourth race since returning from an eight-month lay-up.

POKER STAR’s six rivals include Dwight Chen’s CHACE THE GREAT, who had finished ahead of him in his first two starts since returning to competition.

However, in the first of those races, May 10, Wayne DaCosta’s POKER STAR was badly hindered at the start by CRUCIAL APPEAL and would have certainly finished ahead of CHACE THE GREAT, who he allowed 14lb and was only a quarter-length behind at the finish in fourth place.

When they next met, in the May 27 Lotto Sprint, , POKER STAR chased TALENTED TONY K, almost to the last furlong, before being tackled a half-furlong out by CAMPESINO and  CHACE THE GREAT, who he was giving 12lb then.

Though he now has topweight 126lb, POKER STAR enjoys a six-pound weight swing on CHACE THE GREAT and has no TALENTED TONY K to chase in sub-23 opening fractions.

In his last race, a second-place run behind speedy TALENTED TONY K at 1000 metres straight, two Wednesdays ago, POKER STAR stayed on best of the rest in a field that included CRUCIAL APPEAL and UPPA TUNE, his first-ever attempt at the distance, which was a bit on the sharp side.

He will be far-better suited to 1200 metres and should be the controlling speed in the trusted hands of champion jockey Omar Walker against CHACE THE GREAT and ROYAL ASSAULT.

The Thoroughbred Racing Hall-of-Fame Stakes, the 10th of 11 races scheduled, runs off at 4:55 p.m.

First post is 12:10 pm.