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  • Provincial Racing NSW


THERE will be a new name in the racebook when Meritable has his second start for Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

But it will be three weeks later than it should have been when the New Zealand sprinter lines up in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m).

Minervini and wife Michelle have taken a 50 per cent lease in the lightly-raced five-year-old with the stallion’s Kiwi owner Colin Wightman.

“Colin was keen for me to train Meritable to try to win a race or two in town with the horse as his goal is to stand him at stud in New Zealand,” Minervini explained this evening.

“He would be the only son of Snitzel to be available for breeders in the South Island.

“Colin was keen for some of our clients to lease half of the horse with him, but I didn’t want to take risks with that as his only win was on the synthetic track at Cambridge over two years ago, even though he was subsequently placed at Group 1 level in New Zealand as a three-year-old in the 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

“We didn’t want any of our clients to spend money over a few months if the horse didn’t measure up, so Michelle and I took the lease ourselves.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t come through in time for Minervini Racing’s name to appear in the racebook when he had his first start for us early in the month, but all is now in order and it has been backdated.”

Meritable, at his first start for his new trainer and first since mid-July when unplaced in a No Metropolitan Win Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm, ran a cracking race as a despised $101 outsider in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on December 2.

He charged home to very nearly cause an upset, finishing a close second to five-times winner Dragonstone.

“I’m pretty kind to my horses, and haven’t done a lot with him since,” Minervini said.

“He has taken natural improvement from that first run for us, and is in good order.

“Dylan Gibbons rode him in the Starlight, and will ride him work at Broadmeadow in the morning and stay on him for Saturday’s race.”

Meritable has raced only 11 times, was also placed at Group 2 level in New Zealand over 1400m, and certainly has the bloodlines for stud duty when he retires from the racetrack.

His dam, the Encosta De Lago mare Crystal Flute, is a daughter of Monsoon Wedding, who was exported to Ireland in 2015.

Monsoon Wedding (Danehill – Shantha’s Choice) is a full sister to the brilliant racehorse and great stallion Redoute’s Choice, who died in 2019.

Meritable had his benchmark rating lifted four points to 86 after his Starlight second, and goes up from 53kg to 59kg on Saturday, dropping backing from Listed grade to a Benchmark 88.


Meanwhile, stablemate Hosier is about to start pre-training again prior to him returning to Minervini’s stable to be prepared for a crack at the Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick in April during The Championships.

“I spoke with Jason Collett (who won the Group 3 Premier’s Cup, 2000m at Randwick in August on him and also partnered the gelding in his Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup, 2300m placing in September) about a Doncaster target, and he was in agreement,” Minervini said.

“Sydney can often be wet in autumn, and Hosier is an accomplished wet tracker.

“He is probably the most clean-winded horse I have trained.”

Story John Curtis, December 18, 2023 - Pic supplied

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