RITZA Lenny will start a warm favourite in Saturday night’s Ladbrokes Peter Mosman at Wentworth Park after the talented NSW youngster’s run of good fortune with box draws throughout the Group 1 Classic continued.
Ritza Lenny, trained by Mark Gatt, originally drew box one for the opening round of the $75,000 to-the-winner Peter Mosman, and when the heats were cancelled due to heavy rain the well-bred June ’14 son of Barcia Bale and Lagoon Lowanna was allocated box two in the redraw.
After winning his heat in 29.78, Ritza Lenny once again exited two in last Saturday’s semi-finals where he started $1.70 favourite and trounced Runway Idole by 5 ¾ lengths in 29.82, his fourth win from six starts at Wentworth Park and 11th from 20 overall.
Box draws haven’t been particularly kind to Ritza Lenny in his previous appearances in feature finals, drawing eight in the Bulli Gold Cup (sixth) and seven in the recent Richmond Riches (seventh), while he drew box two in the Maitland Cup (fourth).
But he’ll get his best chance to date to land a major after drawing the rails alley for the Peter Mosman, boasting a perfect three from three record off the red, including his Wentworth Park personal best of 29.71 at just his second career start last December.
After drawing perfectly Ritza Lenny is the $1.95 favourite in bet365’s Peter Mosman market, with Mark Gatt poised to celebrate his second Group 1 victory after winning the 2012 Perth Cup with Oaks Road.
“He’s boxed to win the race. The draw’s perfect and he won’t have any excuses if he gets beaten,” Gatt said.
“He’s got a very good record from the inside and there’s not much pace directly outside him because the two (Buck Forty) and the three (Shima Song) are only average early.
“The five (Tap Out Scarlet) and the six (Runway Idole) look to be the pace in the race and I’m hoping Ritza Lenny will have no more than two to go around. I’m hoping he leads all the way and if he comes out I know he can lead all the way, but he’s not the best beginner and I’m hoping there’s no more than two dogs in front of him.
“He was on the fresh side in the heats and I was really happy with his run and I thought his semi-final win was even better. It was a very slow track and I was rapt with his time.
“I think every dog in the race has a chance. El Magnifico is flying if he can get across from the eight and Jason Thompson’s dog in the two (Buck Forty) is boxed perfectly and has run 29.20 at Sandown.
“But I wouldn’t swap the dog or the box. This is Ritza Lenny’s chance to win a Group 1.”
Ritza Lenny was the second fastest semi-final winner with Bruce and Julie Fletcher’s quickest heat winner El Magnifico once again claiming qualifying honours.
El Magnifico, a March ’14 son of El Grand Senor and Little Grey, won his heat in 29.59 off box one and he took advantage of the two alley in his semi-final, as did Ritza Lenny, when leading throughout in 29.72.
Unfortunately for the Fletchers, who surprisingly haven’t won a Group 1 event despite their many breeding success stories, El Magnifico’s luck with draws deserted him when he needed it most and he’s drawn box eight for only the second time in his 18-start career.
“It’s probably better than five, six or seven but that’s about it,” Bruce Fletcher offered ruefully.
“I think we’ve got the right dog but in the wrong box. And to make it worse, Ritza Lenny, the main danger, has drawn box one. You couldn’t wipe the smile off Mark Gatt’s face after the draw and I would’ve been exactly the same!
“I was delighted with El Magnifico’s run on Saturday night, especially the way he began. That’s probably the cleanest he’s ever come out at Wentworth Park and I was really happy to see him run that time on that track. I couldn’t believe how heavy the track was.
“He’s only had box eight once before and he won and handled it well but there’s a lot more speed in the Peter Mosman.
“The five (Tap Out Scarlet) and six (Runway Idole) both begin and run 5.48 to 5.50 and they both run a straight line to the first turn so El Magnifico will have to come out like he did in his semi-final and use all of his 36 kilos to bustle across. We’ll really be on tenterhooks waiting for the lids to open.
“I’ve never won a Group 1 race so it would mean a great deal to us if El Magnifico could win. I think we’ve won ten Group races but haven’t won a Group 1 yet so I’m well and truly overdue and I’m turning 70 next month so I might be running out of chances!”
The other two semi-final winners were Shima Song (30.07), trained by Team Dailly, who’ll be taking aim at back-to-back Peter Mosman victories after the all-conquering Fernando Bale won the race in 2015, and Tony Spiteri’s Zambora Idol (30.16).