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Carston team out in force at Riccarton

By Aidan Rodley, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Riccarton's all-weather track has provided Megalomaniac with a lifeline he has grasped with all four hooves.

Trainer Andrew Carston admits he's baffled by how different a horse the Pure Champion five-year-old is racing on the synthetic track compared to his modest grass form.

Riccarton hopeful Megalomaniac. Photo: Monica Toretto, NZ Racing Desk

Megalomaniac began his career with Southland trainer Bill McNamara but only beat one horse home in his first three starts and when he finally did get the better of that solitary rival, he was still beaten 46 lengths.

His form took a turn for the better when he joined Carston, but despite getting an easy maiden win at Cromwell, Megalomaniac struggled for any consistency and his new trainer got to the point where he'd had enough.

However, he decided to give Megalomaniac one last chance, this time on the all-weather track on a quick backup.

"I took him to Southland one day and he ran 100m last. If the owner had answered the phone I'd have left him down there," Carston said.

"I brought him back home and four days later he ran second on the poly. He had me beat. I had no idea how he did that."

Despite his shortcomings on the turf, Megalomaniac has become something of a polytrack specialist, winning three of his seven starts and placing in three more, including a last-start third resuming on the track earlier this month.

"He wouldn't be a racehorse if it wasn't for the polytrack. He just wouldn't be in work - and I tell everyone that," Carston said.

"He was the find of the winter for our team last year. He loves the poly."

Megalomaniac will tackle the Cup Week Hospitality On Sale Now 1200 at Riccarton's Thursday polytrack meeting, Carston delighted with his charge's progress since his fresh-up run.

"His first run was super and he's really come on with that," Carston said.

"It's a reasonably strong race. He may be one run away yet but he should go close. I'm pretty happy with him. His work has been good since that last run. What will probably help him is that it looks a pretty fast race as well."

Carston has 15 runners entered for Thursday's meeting, with several strong winning chances.

"I do have a big racing team at the moment which is unusual for this time of the year, but that's where the polytrack really is helping," he said.

Dame County looks a good chance of getting the team off to a winning chance in the Riccarton Park Function Centre Maiden (2200m).

"Her synthetic form is pretty good too so she's got to be a good chance,” he said.

The Arctic Blast should go close in the second, having closed strongly for third on the polytrack resuming a fortnight ago.

"He's improved out of that run too. I could probably have got away with another 1400m but there isn't one so I've got to step him straight up to 1600m," Carston said.

"He's been a frustrating horse though. I can't believe he hasn't won a race yet. He appears to have come up really well this preparation."

Carston's other runners are The Joker, Irish Moss, Vinderstern, Peace Lover, Proper Twelve,

Lippy, Degreeofinnocence, Demand Respect, Macraes and last-start winners Take That and Oh No No No.

"Take That's first run for me was on the poly and he came from last to run fifth and he's gone on to win at Oamaru since. He's just thrived with the change of environment," Carston said.

"I'd only had Oh No No No from Ken Harrison a couple of weeks, but she was really impressive winning down here the other day.

"I did say to Ken when he rang to send her down that her run at Cambridge was pretty good, but she was just looking for a longer straight and we have that. She stays in the grade and should be a nice chance again."

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