Hard Call on target for Valley assignment

Caulfield trainer John Salanitri is confident Hard Call has held the form that gave him a last-start city win and will be right in the mix in the VOBIS Gold Star.

But Salanitri admits Hard Call’s chances will be even better if the predicted rain arrives in Melbourne before Saturday’s $100,000 race over 1500 metres at Moonee Valley.

Hard Call is the second favourite at $4.20 behind last year’s winner, the Darren Weir-trained, Burning Front who is at $1.80 and well-treated under the set weights plus penalties conditions given his rating.

“I give him a really big show,” Salanitri said.

“I’m just hoping we get a bit of rain to take the sting out of the track.

“The only way he can really fail is if the tracks are just too firm for him.”

Salanitri said a favourable barrier and the addition of blinkers at Caulfield on December 26 had helped the gelding to his 2-1/2 length win over 1400m on a surface rated a Good 4.

“I’ve been having a real bad run with barrier draws, and it still continues, and it goes to show you once they draw a barrier what they can do,” he said.

“We were blessed with the little bit of rain we had as well.

“So I’m hoping we do get some sort of rain to help his chances on Saturday.”

Moonee Valley was rated a good 4 on Thursday with rain forecast on Friday.

Salanitri described barrier seven as “a little bit sticky” but has premier jockey Craig Williams aboard.

Stephen Baster has ridden Hard Call in his three starts this campaign but misses Saturday through suspension.

Weir, meanwhile, said his two last-start winners in the race, Burning Front and third favourite Refulgent, were in good shape.

“Burning Front worked terrific at Camperdown on Tuesday so he’s in the right shape to run well for sure,” Weir told radio station RSN927.

“Refulgent can be a little bit hard to catch but it’s a good prize money race so he can go around.”

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