Defensive Guy Looking To Sweep McNeil Championship


After four heats, only one horse was able to claim victory in the two heat rounds and look to chase a threepeat in this Saturday’s McNeil Final.

Since changing to a two-heat and Final Series, Needle is the only horse to go through a McNeil Championship undefeated, successful in 2018 for driver Gary Whitaker and trainer Brad Connelly.

Defensive Guy was impressive in both rounds of heats and the Matt Crone trained six-year-old will head into the final in top shape.

“He is a really happy horse at the moment, everything this week suggests he will be at the top of his game,” Crone said.

“We can’t read much into his track work because he is a really poor worker, it’s at the races where he really switches on.

“Our main concern this week is the traffic after the start, it will be tricky, and we just need to hope that they all step cleanly in front.

The second heat victory was a strong effort, with Defensive Guy having plenty still to offer on the wire, getting within 0.4 of the track record held by Our Overanova which was set in 2015.

With only two attempts at 13 furlongs, one of those was in a heat of the Victoria Trotters Derby in 2021 and the other in last year’s Redcliffe Trotters Cup.

“Distance won’t be a problem, he was so strong at the end of both heats, and I think he will even be better over the longer trip,” Crone said.

“He went so close to a track record, and Angus (Garrard- driver) agrees that he should thrive”.

Gus will look to test Defensive Guy in the Final, the Chantal Turpin trained five-year-old finishing third in the first-round heat before being unplaced in the second round, his chances not helped with an error at the 1800 metre point.

Searching for his first feature victory in Queensland, Gus progressed to the Inter Dominion Final in December and finished fifth in the inaugural The Great Square.

Doug Lee will be looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the McNeil, the six-year-old charging home down the outside to score last year, while he draws for the perfect trip behind the speed in 2024.

The open class race this week will see the rematch of Manila Playboy, Deus Ex and Turn It Up, the three having met at the start of February when Turn It Up was successful.

Since that last meeting, Deus Ex has recorded two wins, including one over Turn It Up, while Manila Playboy finished third at Menangle behind Hot And Treacherous.

The opening race of the night should be a great contest with five of the 10 runners boasting a last start victory.

Art Jester, Bangkok Deejay, Ok Boomer, Loutenant and Argyle are all last start winners and all in their own impressive fashion.

The first race is scheduled for 5.39pm, with the Jim McNeil Final race 4 at 7.11pm.