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Hunter confident about Belwazi’s chances

steph
In-form apprentice Stephanie Thornton will ride trainer Jerome Hunter’s two runners at Sandown.

Trainer Jerome Hunter is confident lightly raced sprinter Belwazi can bounce back to winning ways when she continues her campaign at Sandown after a short freshen-up.

Belwazi has won four of her six starts, including three from four this preparation, but had her colours lowered at Moonee Valley in a 955m benchmark-70 race on December 15 after being held up near the home turn.

The four-year-old finished second and Hunter gave the mare a freshen-up before turning attention to Wednesday’s Ladbrokes Handicap (1000m).

In-form apprentice Stephanie Thornton takes the ride again on Belwazi who was the $2.20 favourite on the eve of the race.

“Stephanie got off last start and said ‘we should have won that’,” Hunter said.

“She said if ‘if I was out fifty metres earlier I would have won’.

“I think she rode her well, she was just a victim of circumstances. The horses weren’t going fast enough in front of her.”

Belwazi has 63.5kg dropping back to benchmark-64 grade but that will be offset by Thornton’s 3kg claim and Hunter is not concerned.

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“She won with 59 kilos at Moe and that didn’t affect her at all,” Hunter said.

“I just put her out for 10 days to give her a freshen-up because there’s a lot of races at Moonee Valley in January and February.

“This is just a starting point but I think she’s good enough to win it.”

Thornton rode a city double at Caulfield on Sunday and her Sandown rides include the Hunter-trained Lady Seabring in the Clanbrooke Racing Handicap.

Lady Seabring finished well to win a class one race at Moonee Valley two starts ago and then led at Sandown last start over 1800m before weakening to finish unplaced.

Hunter is happy to forget that run.

“It was a very upside down race,” he said.

“I didn’t want her to lead. It’s just unfortunate that’s what happened.

“Even though she did lead, she had it pretty easily and I don’t think she runs out 1800 metres, so that’s why I’ve dropped her back to 1500 metres tomorrow.”

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