Newcastle Mile: Ultimate Art primed to beat the odds and break Hunter drought

STABLE STAR: Michael Formosa puts Newcastle Mile hope Ultimate Art through his paces. Picture: Ashlea Brennan

When growing up, Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa wanted to win the Inter City Pace and the Newcastle Mile.

Staminator delivered him an Inter City Pacein 2009before going amiss and dream horse Ultimate Art was a half-neck away last year from giving him theother.

And while he knows the Kevin Pizzuto-trained odds-on favouriteMajordan will be hard to beat in Saturday night’s edition of the Mile, he’s sure Ultimate Art is over the odds at30-1 to go one better.

Ultimate Art was $31 with TAB Fixed Odds for the group 3 feature after drawing eight, which will become seven after Shane and Lauren Tritton’sthird entry, My Alpha Rock, was scratched.

“I thought that was a bit strange,” Formosa said of the price.

“He’s drawn bad plenty of times and finished better than second last,” referring to his place in the market.

Ultimate Art, now eight,has won$571,101 in stakes from 103 starts after the Formosas paid just $7000 for himas a yearling.

A two-time group 1 winner, Ultimate Art had his first crack at the Ross Gigg Newcastle Mile last year, when he almost beat Bettor Bet Black to become the first Hunter winner since Medowie Prince in 1993.

“Growing up there was always two races I wanted to win, the Inter City Pace and the Newcastle Mile,” Formosa said.

“I’ve ticked one of them, I’d like to tick the other one now.

“And he doesn’t get a chance to race at Newcastle much. Most of the Newcastle people only see him when he goes to the trials.

“He raced in it last year, but before that he hadn’t raced at Newcastle in about three years, so hopefully he can do something for the locals.”

Ultimate Art won the Bathurst Mayor’s Gold Cup this preparation and has produced gutsy efforts when second in the Armidale, Brian Hancock, Renshaw and Dubbo cups.His Dubbo Cup runwas two weeks ago and he trialled on Wednesday night at Newcastle, cruising in 1.56.5.

Formosa said he would push forward from his wide gate on Saturday nightand hoped to find cover behind a fast early pace.

“On what he’s done in his lifetime, he’s the best horse in the race,” he said.

“Probably a lot of those horses in it won’t do what he’s done. He’s the senior in the race now, but he’s still going good. He’sprobably better suited to the longer races now though.

“Hopefully they go a 55 half or something and we can get over them in the end.”

He said a win in the race would be extra special given it has been named in memory of long-time Newcastle club boss Ross Gigg, who died in 2014.

“Ross did a lot for the club and when the Newcastle Mile was a lead-up to the Miracle Mile, Ross had a lot to do with that, so it would be good,” he said.

As for his tactics, Formosa said: “We’ll try and get forward at the start but we’ll just see what happens underneath us and make our mind up after that.

“It all depends who leads. If Shane [Tritton] holds the lead with one of his, then Majordan will wantto hold the spot outside the leader, which means I’ll be stuck three wide the whole way if I kept going, so a lot depends of what happens.

“He’s going good. We would have given it a really good shake from a good draw but we’ll see what happens.”

Formosa said this year’s race was “definitely going to be harder” given his draw and the presence of Majordan, which has run1:49.4 and1:48.9 in his past two starts.”

He expected Avonnova’s track record of 1:52.2 to be bettered.

Formosa will drive Photozen for Queensland trainerBarb Barry in the night’s other feature, the Newcastle Derby.

“She said it should go OK,” he said.

“It’s won a couple of races but it’shard to line up the form from there though.”

The night also features heats of the two-year-old NSW Breeders Challenge series, where Formosa has Eclipse Stride.

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