Queensland stars on show at NSW Breeders Challenge night

Jason Carkeet could not be more pleased with Sky Blu’s draw as the young filly aims for Group 1 glory at Menangle on Saturday evening.

The two-year-old Queensland filly will be one of a glut of star standardbreds on display in NSW on Saturday from the Sunshine State.

The contingent of Queensland pacers will be headed by superstar Leap To Fame, who is shooting to grab another elite level title in the NSW Breeders Challenge 3YO Colts and Geldings Final.

Sky Blu will contest the NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies Final alongside fellow Queensland trainer Darren McCall, who will prepare and drive Miss Froufrou.

Sky Blu started her career with respected horseman Carkeet and has since been transferred to the barn of David Thorn for the NSW assignments, which were always the long-term plan for the filly.

The Buaraba-based 51-year-old would love to be campaigning south of the border with his emerging filly, but with commitments at home, he sent her to a close mate in Thorn.

Queensland will be represented in six events from Menangle on Saturday in a feature-packed program.

“We are all sending horses down that we think are a live chances hopefully,” Carkeet said of the contingent of Queensland trainers.

Sky Blu was beaten 10 metres in her semi-final run for the series earlier this month.

The two big guns in the market – Major Delight and Peaceful – were strong on that occasion and will again be hard to hold out in the $150,000 Final.

But, the renowned breaker and educator of standardbreds – Carkeet – thinks his filly drawing the position of three should bring her right into the contest.

“We have drawn the alley, if I had to chance to pick the barrier for the race, that is the one I would have picked,” Carkeet said.

“It will be interesting at the start.

“We have to have huge respect for the first two from the heats last week.”

Caretaker trainer Thorn – a multiple Group 1-winning conditioner – is pleased with the filly, according to Carkeet.

“He is happy with her,” Carkeet said.

“David is a good guy that we have known for a long time.

“We have always had a pretty big opinion of her.”

Sky Blu broke her maiden status at Albion Park last month at her second attempt before being defeated by McCall’s Miss Froufrou at Newcastle in their heat for the series.

McCall’s youngster has drawn eight for the 1609 metre contest, as Miss Froufrou will be one of a number of runners from his stable across the card on Saturday night.

Leading Queensland driver Nathan Dawson has replaced Brendan Barnes in the sulky of Sky Blu on Saturday night after Barnes started a suspension this week after originally being booked.

Dawson will also partner Teddy Disco – who is prepared by Shawn Grimsey – as the three-year-old aims to topple Victorian Derby champion Leap To Fame.

“Nathan will be there already and has driven her before so it is a huge advantage for us,” Carkeet said.

Teddy Disco progressed to the Final after going close in the first semi-final, beaten slightly by Mahomes.

Of the other Queenslanders on show, Hy Voltage for trainer Graham Dwyer and driver Angus Garrard will line up in the NSW Breeders Challenge 4YO Entires and Geldings Final at Group 2 level.

The talented Bettor Isolate – who is set to start as the red-hot favourite on Saturday – stopped Hy Voltage from claiming last week’s heat.

The Gemma Hewitt-trained Kashed Up will be out there with Hy Voltage as well, finishing runner-up in his respective second semi-final last week.

Shannon Price, Daren Garrard and Chantal Turpin will also have runners in feature races from Menangle on Saturday night.

By Jordan Gerrans

The Gemma Hewitt trained Kashed Up after an Albion Park win late last year.