Mazzacano out for Aust Steeple history

Trainer Robbie Laing says Mazzacano is on target to create history at Sandown on Saturday by becoming the first horse to win The Australian Steeplechase for a third time.

The nine-year-old has overcome three serious tendon injuries to become one of Australia’s best steeplechasers.
The King Ivor gelding won the 2007 Australian Steeple by 20 lengths but, when winning the Crisp Steeple at Sandown at his next outing he returned to scale with a ruptured tendon which sidelined him for nearly two years.

Laing set him for a first-up tilt at the 2009 Australian Steeple and readied him for it with a series of flat and jumps trials.

Under 69.5kg, Mazzacano won the race by three-quarters of a length from Brookton Mist.

He went on to finish runner-up to last season’s Jumper of the Year Pentiffic in the 2009 Crisp Steeple before failing behind Pentiffic, due to a back problem, in the Grand National Steeple (4530m) at Sandown.

Mazzacano has had two runs over the bigger new fences this season for a win under 70kg from Some Are Bent over 3300m at Sandown and a distant fourth to Al Garhood in the Grand Annual Steeple (5500m) at Warrnambool.

“He trialled brilliantly on the flat on the Monday leading into it but he went around in second gear (in the Grand Annual) and when he pulled up blew the place down,” Laing said.

“Whether he had a low-grade infection or a back problem I’m not sure.

“We thought it was a two-horse race between him and Some Are Bent but Some Are Bent fell and he got beaten a furlong.

“It was the worst race of his career and he took a week to get over it but he seems really good again now.”

Steven Pateman, who has ridden Mazzacano in his two `chasing starts this preparation, retains the ride and the horse drops 0.5kg on last year’s winning weight to 69kg.

“If he’s right he’ll win,” Laing said of Mazzacano who has won eight of his 11 jumps starts.

“He has a bit of race fitness this year and he looks well.”
Laing said the heavy (8) track rating at Sandown would be in favour of Mazzacano who is $2.40 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of last-start Sandown Steeple winner Tarawera at $3.40.

Great Southern Steeple winner Virvacity is third pick at $7 with Grand Annual runner-up Mali Juraj at $7.50, Last Shogun at $8.50 and Stop The Traffic next best at $9.