SHARPENING UP: Kirsty Formosa with Ultimate Art. TWO-TIME group1 winner Ultimate Art will complete a strange hat-trick if he can again win first-up from a spell at Menangle on Saturday night.
The Michael Formosa-trained five-year-old stallion’s last run was a 12th in the group3 Four-Year-Old Championship on July 19, which came three weeks after his group1 NSW Breeders Crown win.
Ultimate Art will resume in race four at Menangle with Jack Trainor taking the reins in place of Formosa, who is serving a 21-day driving suspension for causing interference in the only race held at Newcastle last Friday.
It will be the third year in a row the Ellalong-based trainer has been suspended for his star pacer’s December return to the track, and Formosa will be hoping for the same result.
Ultimate Art won at Maitland in 2012 and at Newcastle last year first-up with Mark Callaghan and Robbie Morris respectively in the gig.
Formosa, though, was cautiously optimistic about Ultimate Art’s hopes on Saturday night as he builds him towards a shot at the Interdominion heats in February.
‘‘He’s probably going to need the run but he won’t be far off it,’’ Formosa said.
‘‘He’s come back good. He’s had three trials and done only what he’s wanted to do.
‘‘He was only really pushed in one of them and he’s come through well.
‘‘His best distance is over a bit of ground and 80per cent of the races at Menangle are over the mile, so he’s probably going to need a few mile races to sharpen him up, but he’ll come good.’’
Ultimate Art will meet Hunter-trained Shannonsablast (Darren Elder) and Aspiring Art (Shane Tritton) in the race.
■ Michael Formosa was one of the many trainers to shy away from entering a horse in the Newcastle Cup after the significant drop in prizemoney this year.
The cup, first held in 1954, was scheduled for Friday night but was postponed after receiving only six nominations.
‘‘I was actually aiming Ultimate Art for it, then about a month ago they said the prizemoney was going from $30,000 to $8000, so I didn’t bother about it,’’ Formosa said.
‘‘I’ve always wanted to win a Newcastle Cup and I thought I had the horse to do it, but anyway, that’s the way it goes.’’
Ultimate Art will race for $12,000 at Menangle on Saturday night.
Formosa will still have a strong team in at the eight-race Newcastle meeting.
He rated Sovereign Flight in race six and Miss Art Ranger in the first as his best chances.
He also has Mondo Courage in the first and Always Prompt and Constant Addiction in the race four.
Formosa said Always Prompt, which has won his last two starts at Newcastle, was ‘‘a dangerous little horse with the right run’’ and ‘‘a good place chance’’.
■ Shane Tritton-trained runners made up one-tenth of a record 150 nominations this week for next year’s Interdominion championships.
Tritton nominated 2014 sixth-placegetter Mach Beauty and Miracle Mile runners Suave Stuey Lombo and Easy On The Eye among 15 of his horses for qualifying heats on February 14.
Ardghal, Aspiring Artist, Chance, Fearless Leader, Latteron, Lombo Toscannini, Mark Dennis, Marty Monkhouser, Pas Ultimate Delight, Rathmore Lady, Saucy Legend and Shipwreck are the Keinbah trainer’s other hopefuls.
Heats will be held at Menangle, Addington, Melton, Albion Park and Gloucester Park for the grand final on Sunday, March 1, at Menangle.
Michael Formosa’s Ultimate Art is the only other local among nominations.
Suave Stuey Lombo was the shortest of the Hunter hopes in the opening TAB Sportsbet fixed odds market at $14.
Easy On The Eye and Mach Beauty were $21, while the others were $151 or $301.