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Borg confident The Black Prince can reign again

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Despite drawing a poor barrier, owner Paul Borg remains “quietly confident” The Black Prince can prevail in Friday’s 2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile.

The hometown hero will start from the “number nine” position when the Newcastle Harness Racing Club hosts its premier race on 18 February.

And, the seven-year-old bay gelding is expected to have his work cut out for him against the likes of Inter Dominion 2021 champion Boncel Benjamin (six) and runner-up Expensive Ego (five), too.

But, that isn’t a major concern for Borg as trainer Roy Roots Jnr prepares The Black Prince to defend his crown on home turf at Broadmeadow.

“I’ll admit, the barrier draw is not the best,” he said.

“However, he’s the type of horse who likes to come from behind.

“We’ve tried to race him early, but it’s never succeeded.

“So, I don’t think we’re out of it by any means.

“I’m just happy he’s in the Newcastle Mile again.”

Borg, who tasted success with the same team 12 months ago, isn’t fazed by the challenge ahead.

“It’s all luck [the barrier draw],” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s a top field.

“You still have to get the job done no matter where you start from.

“The driver knows what to do.

“You just say ‘do the best you can’.

“So, we’ll leave it up to him.”

The 2018 Newcastle Horse of the Year enters the showdown in great form.

After winning the 2021 Newcastle Mile, The Black Prince backed it up by claiming the Len Smith Mile at Club Menangle and performed strongly in the prestigious Inter Dominion.

“There’s no real pressure on him [to go back-to-back],” Borg said.

“We’re happy with how he’s travelling.

“He ran fifth or sixth in the Inter Dominion, which wasn’t a bad effort.

“He’s also won two Group 1s in the past 12 months.

“Not many horses achieve that.

“But, I truly think he’s working a lot better now than he did in the Inter Dominion heats.

“We had bad draws in that, and we raced without luck, so we’re used to poor barriers.”

Borg said The Black Prince’s “local knowledge” could also play a major role in the result.

“We’re hoping he puts in a good race at home,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“He loves the track – and he’s proven that in the past.

“If his rivals go hard early, The Black Prince will be in it.

“Although the draw’s not to our liking, he boasts a lot of speed, which will hold him in good stead.”

As for Roots Jnr, he’d love to experience some déjà vu.

“Taking out the Newcastle Mile last year was a highlight for us so far,” he said.

“To win it was a dream come true.

“It was a great night.

“It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win as a kid.

“So, it would be fantastic to do it all again.”

2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile barrier draw

  • Balraj (Jack Trainor) 7
  • Boncel Benjamin (Jason Grimsom) 6
  • Expensive Ego (Belinda McCarthy) 5
  • Fouroeight (EM 1 – Mat Rue) 3
  • Jay OK (EM 2 – Paul Fitzpatrick) 10
  • Mach Dan (Emma Stewart) 2
  • Majestic Cruiser (Jason Grimsom) 4
  • Max Delight (David Aiken) 1
  • The Black Prince (Roy Roots Jnr) 9
  • Triple Eight (Jess Tubbs) 8

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