Hail the freak on four legs

I RETURNED to calling the races in the last 12 months after a 20-year break.

I’ve called half a dozen meetings and at least 100 trials and although I’m certain it’ll never be a full time career, I’m loving it.

I was asked recently to nominate a highlight in my recently revived pursuit. It’s easy; in the last 12 months I’ve had the pleasure of calling the Queanbeyan flyer Karuta Queen in six barrier trials.

The horse is a freak. It’s hard not to get goosebumps calling it because of its blistering speed.

I was calling the day it broke the track record in a trial at Queanbeyan winning by 21 lengths. I had never seen a horse break 50 seconds for 900 metres and I may never again. It’s a tearaway, “catch-me-if-you-can” type of horse that breaks the hearts of its opposition.

At the actual races, Karuta Queen’s been a sensation; in a six-race career, the flashy chestnut, two-year-old filly has won four races and $1.5 million in prizemoney. Its victories include the Magic Millions Classic on the Gold Coast and a couple of metro wins at Rosehill.

The Queen tapered off a little the autumn with a close second in the Black Opal before a failure in the Golden Slipper.

Karuta Queen, or Lily as she’s known around the stable, has had a break for three months, but she’s set to return to racing in August.

Her wily trainer Neville Layt has a wide, quiet smile on his face in anticipation of what’s to come. The 67-year-old former jockey has trained a lot of good horses in the last three decades but he told me that “this is the most fun I’ve had with one.”

He’s mapped out an ambitious campaign which includes races in Sydney and Melbourne in the spring.

Racing analyst Gary Crispe, from RacingandSports.com.au thinks that the flying filly may find it harder in its second campaign.

“As the progressive juveniles get older, sometimes the more immature types catch up,” he said. “She’s got a ton of natural speed though and that could take her a long way.”

Karuta Queen’s been at the trials twice in July and on both occasions she obliterated its rivals by eight and 10 lengths respectively. We should see it return to the track in the $125,000 San Domenico Stakes at Rosehill on August 13.

Mark Parton is the weekday breakfast announcer on 2CC

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