Peter Evans-trained Jet Pilot was second to only Grafton jockey Matt McGuren on Allan Kehoe’s Hanna From Havana at Grafton on March 31. Photo: Bruce Thomas
Peter Evans-trained Jet Pilot was second to only Grafton jockey Matt McGuren on Allan Kehoe’s Hanna From Havana at Grafton on March 31. Photo: Bruce Thomas

Jet Pilot ready for takeoff

IT HAS taken almost two years and 25 starts, but Coffs Harbour gelding Jet Pilot just might be able to finally break through for his first win at Grafton today and end a frustrating run for trainer Peter Evans.

Jet Pilot, who made his racing debut in July 2018, is yet to win in 24 starts, but on his recent improved form he looms as clearly the one to beat when he tackles Monday’s J R Richards & Sons Maiden Hcp (1720m).

The signs have been promising in his most recent starts that things are about to change for the luckless five-year-old son of Jet Spur.

He has finished runner-up at his past three outings – twice to the in-form staying filly Hanna From Havana – at Grafton over 1710m on March 31 and at Ballina over 1900m on April 7, then last Monday at Grafton he made good ground late to finish second again to Brisbane Boy in a Maiden Plate over 1710m.

Evans said a breakthrough victory for Jet Pilot today would probably give him his most satisfying win as a trainer.

“It has been frustrating for sure,” he said.

“He’s one of those horses who just doesn’t seem to have any luck at all. He’s either copped bad luck, bad barriers, a bad ride or just run into a good horse on the day.

“He probably should have won at his second race start at Ballina (back in July 2018), he was unlucky not to win again second-up at Taree last year, and I thought he had no luck last week when second to Brisbane Boy and probably should have won.

“He’s obviously no world-beater but he tries hard and we love him. A few of his runs last year were a bit ordinary, but after we changed up a few things with him, he turned his form around and probably his last 10 runs have all been pretty good.

“Hanna From Havana has been far too good for him in two of his recent second placings, but she has been racing really well and then came out and won a Benchmark 66 at her next start.”

Evans certainly deserves another win after a frustrating run of seconds with his small team. The trainer has had to be content with second placings for five of his last nine starters – three times with Jet Pilot, Dawn Thunder narrowly beaten at Lismore on April 18 and, most recently, Inwithachance just going under at big odds at Port Macquarie on Friday.

“We are having a frustrating run lately and could certainly do with a change of luck, so hopefully Jet Pilot can gets things go his way and he can finally break through on Monday,” he said.

Meanwhile, jockey Robert Agnew can land his second winner as a trainer when Chillie Cod tackles Monday’s 2YO Hcp (1115m).

Agnew, one of the few jockeys in Australia to also hold a trainer’s licence, landed his first winner at Ballina on April 7 when Joey’s Gift was an impressive debut winner over 1000m. Chillie Cod also ran in that same race, starting the $2.10 favourite, but was no match for her barnstorming stablemate who was sent out a $41 hope.

Agnew had also accepted with Chillie Cod for a $31,000 2YO Plate at Tamworth yesterday where she drew nine in a field of 11, but has opted to run at Grafton instead where she has gate two.

Agnew, who has been training for a year, has four horses in work.

The Danny Bowen-trained Collombatti, bred and raced by Sydney media identity Ray Hadley, ran a well-backed favourite when he resumed for fifth behind Joey’s Gift in that Ballina race, and could improve sharply second up.

Bowen also has a strong winning hope later in the day with the in-form Antilia in the Benchmark 66 Hcp (1420m).

The ex-Matt Cumani-trained mare has raced well in each of her six starts since joining Bowen’s Lismore stable, winning twice and finishing second on two other occasions.

She got back off an awkward draw at Ballina last time out on April 7, just failing to pick up the winner Bella Boss, but should race a lot handier at Clarence River Jockey Club today from her ideal barrier two.



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