Port Macquarie races: Nathan Doyle on the hunt for quick success

Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle could easily train the first three winners at Port Macquarie.

The Newcastle trainer kicks off the card with Gironde in the opener, which is an Open Handicap (1200m), and it contains a small but select field of runners.

Gironde, a four-year-old, is fourth-up for the race after running eighth, 12th and winning last start at Scone, when getting back from barrier 14 and storming home.

Koby Jennings rides him but from the inside gate, which is Doyle’s only worry.

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Koby Jennings on Colette winning the Golden Eagle. Picture: Grant GuySource:The Daily Telegraph

“He’s a great chance but I probably didn’t want to draw barrier one with him because you’ve got to let him balance up and get him into a rhythm,” Doyle said.

“You don’t want to drive him out of the gates so I would’ve rather have drawn eight than one.

“I just don’t want him to end up three back on the fence in a small field. He just prefers a bunny to chase. He floats around if he’s out in front early.”

Despite what looked like ordinary form on paper, Doyle wasn’t surprised Gironde won last start and he’s a horse that either wins or doesn’t place.

“He’s improved since his last start and he gets in well at the weights so hopefully he can get the job done again,” Doyle said. “All three of his runs this time in have been full of merit. He is a hard horse to catch though because he hasn’t run any seconds or thirds.”

Muscadelle goes around in the second and she’s a filly on the rise.

Doyle put her away after two runs during her first preparation when running fifth and second as a well-supported runner on both occasions.

“She had enough at the end of her last preparation but she spelled well and has trialled up well,” Doyle said.

She had a 16-week spell and thrived which was obvious after seeing her only trial which was a classy winning one at Gosford over 800m.

Muscadelle didn’t win it by a lot but she could have if Ashley Morgan wanted her to and Morgan stays on from barrier four for her first-up effort.

Koby Jennings rides Gironde and Greenskeeper for Nathan Doyle at Port Macquarie. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“She loves being a racehorse. She just goes out and powers around and does her work,” Doyle said. “Hopefully she begins well and positions up in the first couple and I think she’ll be hard to run down if the track plays fair.

“She’s very quick but isn’t real big. She’ll win plenty of races.”

Greenskeeper is Doyle’s third chance a race later and it might be his last of the day with Be Brilliant and Jetline likely to be left at home and not run in later races on the day.

Greenskeeper is looking to remain undefeated at Port Macquarie after two wins at the track including a last start triumph after a 47-week spell.

“He did the job well after being off for 12 months,” Doyle said.

“He’s the type of horse that needs to be rolling coming to the corner. He was held up a bit when he won and stopping and starting didn’t suit him but he got the job done.

“A month between runs is the only query. We didn’t want to start him on wet tracks. He’ll roll forward and he’s ticked all the boxes since his last win.”

Meanwhile, if Dragoneight can win at Port Macquarie, it will erase the memories of his last run for trainer Luke Thomas.

The Cessnock horseman watched on as his six-year-old suffered bad luck from nearly start to finish last start when sent out a well-supported $3.60 hope.

Trainer Luke Thomas is hoping for better luck with Dragoneight at Port Macquarie. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Supplied

“I thought he was unbeatable that day at Coffs Harbour but he actually got squeezed out of the barriers by two horses at the start and ended up further back than we wanted,” Doyle said.

“He then had to circle them and it was just a nightmare.”

Dragoneight jumps from barrier one with Jeff Penza on in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m) and despite having him peaking last start, Thomas feels he’s going just as good now.

“He’s jumping out of his skin,” Thomas said. “He’s better on a Good 4 and that was a Soft 6. He sprints a lot better on a firmer track and that track should be perfect at Port Macquarie.

“His best distance is probably 1200m and over 1000m I hope he can be a bit closer and doesn’t have to do as much work. He sprints a bit better if you leave him alone but he’s fit now and I expect him to be up there closer to them.”

Shen Gui is the other Thomas runner on the day in the fourth race and he needs to improve from a wide gate but is third-up.

“I hope he can improve,” Thomas said.

“He had two years in the paddock and lost all his muscle and race fitness so it’s been hard to get him back fit without flattening him at the same time.

“I think he’s going to win a few races. His first run was good when caught deep and the track was like concrete at Moree last start and he probably didn’t like it.

“He’ll go back and I expect him to be hitting the line hard and he’ll be ready next start.”

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Originally published asPort Macquarie preview: Doyle chasing early treble

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