Seven runners for the stable over the past week, with some good performances. First, three of our team raced at the good Bendigo meeting on Wednesday.
Distant Sky returned to the track after a winter spell. It was pleasing to see Distant Sky first take a run on the inside when back in the rear of the field, and then switch off heels to get to the outside in clear running to fly home for third placing in the 1100m event. We look forward to seeing him step up to 1200m next start, draw a nice gate, and break his maiden.
Itchicoo Park is a promising middle-distance type, also first up after a spell. He showed quite a bit of natural speed to sit midfield in the 1400m Maiden. He was held up early in the straight just as Michael Walker was looking to push out into clear space. We think it cost him well over a length if not two. So Itchicoo Park’s effort to work home solidly into third place was very pleasing.
Amortise suffered a bruised tendon in November last year, shortly after winning in impressive fashion over 2300m at Ballarat. Owners have been great supporters of their gelding, showing patience to get him back to the track ready for a Summer campaign. His first-up effort at Bendigo was pleasing. Patrick Pilley rode him well into sixth position over this unsuitably short 1400m distance. Nigel has always had a good opinion of Amortise, and he has now furnished into a much stronger gelding who we think can win some good races over 1600m and further this preparation.
At Moe on Friday, Sonsee Array pleased us with her strong closing fourth in the 1600m Maiden. Following two great jump outs at Flemington, she disappointed in her first three runs this preparation, fading at the end of her races. However the team found she was suffering from an ulcer in her throat. We believe this was the reason she was not finishing her races off. Since eradicating this problem and applying both a tongue tie and cross over noseband, she is a different horse.
“If the race was 1700m, she wins” – Patrick Pilley regarding Sonsee Array.
Friday night racing at Moonee Valley is always a great night out. The owners of Exclusive Lass enjoyed it, despite finding their stakes-winning mare in a pretty hot, fast 955m race. This race was won by Sirbible, in what was later known to be the second fastest 955m race on record. Exclusive Lass was simply run off her feet early, but balanced up nicely and finished strongly for fourth. Her closing sections of 33.15 for the 600m and 22.41 for the 400m proved she ran well. It also proved to Nigel that she will benefit from a step back up to 1100 or 1200m, and take a sit midfield.
Saturday at Sandown was a bit of a disaster for Desert Jeuney. We were thrilled with his third placing at Flemington on Cup Day, and thought he was a realistic each-way chance in Saturday’s Eclipse Stakes. But he missed the start by three lengths, which he has been known to do from time to time. From then on, he over-raced and never had a chance. He may back up in Saturday’s Ballarat Cup, at a distance Nigel is keen on testing him in again.
More bad luck followed on Sunday at Geelong. Groovin’ started a hot favourite in the 1715m BM58- race. Stepping down in grade we were pretty confident. All looked to be going well with two tear-away leaders in front and Groovin’ comfortably in fourth position heading into the straight. The gap opened for Patrick Pilley at the top of the straight, but after 50m the gap closed suddenly, causing severe interference to Groovin’. Both apprentices on the two leaders were suspended for causing that interference. Groovin’ picked herself up again to fun a closing fourth.
“In hindsight I know Paddy (Patrick Pilley) would have wanted to go outside the two leaders in the straight, but there was a big enough gap for him to push through. Sadly, he and Groovin’ were chopped out of it and that put her out of the race” – Kasey Loftus, Assistant Trainer
This week coming, we look forward to Prime Appeal and Electric Aura today at Sale – both good winning chances we feel. Then we hope Desert Jeuney goes to the Ballarat Cup on Saturday, but a decision depends on the track condition, the choice of rider, and his recovery following an indifferent performance on Saturday.