Turnbull searching for Atomic Red’s breakthrough win in Chariots of Fire

BIG MONEY: Steve Turnbull takes three chances to Menangle this Saturday for the Chariots of Fire. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT
BIG MONEY: Steve Turnbull takes three chances to Menangle this Saturday for the Chariots of Fire. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

Atomic Red leads Bathurst trainer Steve Turnbull’s three-pronged at Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots of Fire (1609 metres) at Menangle.

The former Gold Chalice champion runs from gate eight against a field of the continent’s elite sprinters, joined by stablemates Conviction and Joes Star Of Mia.

Turnbull said Atomic Red, to be driven by daughter Amanda, will be one to watch after a career-best mile rate in his Group 3 Hondo Grattan Stakes win last month.

“To get one horse into these sorts of races is a big thrill but to have three in it is amazing,” he said.

“He’s probably the toughest of the three I’ve got. He should be right up there. His first-up run was amazing.

“We were hoping he’d go alright but he just blew us away with that run.”

The Chariots of Fire is a big step up in class but if Atomic Red gets close to his performance from the Hondo Stakes then the Rocknroll Hanover horse could claim his biggest career win.

Atomic Red dug deeg on the Menangle straight during his last-start win, holding on by a half-head in a lightning quick 1:50.3.

It was his first run in seven months.

There’s plenty of talent standing between him and a breakthrough Group 1 crown.

Other Bathurst talent in the race includes Ashlee Grives driving Mark Jones’ horse Whittaker, as well as Chris and Anthony Frisby’s gelding Our Uncle Sam.

Shane and Lauren Tritton’s runner Gotta Go Ya Hu – which came within inches of taking down Atomic Red in the Hondo Grattan Stakes – returns for Saturday’s Group 1 classic.

However, the runner which will command the most attention on the night will be Margaret Lee’s Jilliby Kung Fu.

The Four Starzzz Shark horse picked up an upset Group 1 win last-start and on Saturday makes a trip outside of Victoria for the first time in pursuit of another top-level triumph.

He’s missed the placings just five times in his 27 starts.

Steve Turnbull has the drive on Joes Star Of Mia while son Mitch drives Conviction.

“Atomic will definitely go forward if he can. It would be nice if he can get over to the death seat cheaply. He likes to be up there on the speed,” Turnbull said.

“It doesn’t look like that last run has had any ill effect on him either.

“He missed his last start he was going to have so he could turn up fulled rested for this.

“I think there’s a good group of four or five horses who can win this. Ashlee’s horse and the Frisby’s horse are going good and there’s that horse from Melbourne who looks strong but I don’t know too much about.

“I’m confident my other two runners can be right in it too and give this a good go.”

The $200,000 Chariots of Fire gets started from 9.44pm on Saturday.

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