Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is delighted with the way his five-year-old stayer The Good Fight has settled into Sydney life and believes Saturday’s Nathan's Famous Handicap (2000m) is the perfect race to get the ball rolling across the Tasman.
“He is great, he has settled in really well,” Ritchie said. “He didn’t have a sweat mark on him when he got off the flight and he has a really laid back nature. I paid a lot of money for him as a yearling so he has got the attitude that comes with the price tag.
“He will have a little gallop on the course proper here at Rosehill on Thursday to have a look at the track and I think we are bringing him for the right race.
“It is a rating 78 2000m, we are not trying to bite off more than we can chew, we are in our grade.”
Ritchie has secured the services of Hugh Bowman and hopes the star jockey can overcome a tricky gate in barrier 14 and equal top-weight of 59.5kgs, as The Good Fight steps up sharply in trip following a narrow win over 1400m at Te Rapa when resuming.
“He is weighted accordingly but we have got a good jockey in Hugh Bowman and it is forecast for a bit of rain and is currently a soft track,” Rithcie said.
“We are looking for a soft or heavy track on Saturday, he performs okay on top of the ground but it certainly won’t affect him as much as perhaps one or two others.
“The fact that he is such a natural stayer, there is no issue from my point of view going from the 1400m to 2000m.
“Rosehill is not an undulating track and it is probably quite a soft 2000m, not like at Randwick where you go up a hill and down a rise.
“The barrier draw means we will ride him cold but to be honest he is better ridden back anyway because he has such a powerful finish.”
Ritchie, who is in Sydney himself until Sunday, said the engagement of Bowman meant he would get accurate feedback as to where the progressive galloper rates against Sydney opposition.
“If Hugh thinks we are going to be outclassed here in Sydney or in Melbourne then we will act accordingly,” Ritchie said.
“There is a good benchamrk 78 2400m race for him in two weeks time, if he was to run well without winning then that would be the logical race for him once again at Rosehill.
“If he was to win, we would look at something like the Newcastle Gold Cup (Gr.3, 2300m).”
Ritchie will also have runners at Hawke’s Bay on Saturday, where in-form galloper Sultan Of Swing steps out in the Reliable Man Trophy (1600m) from barrier three for apprentice Taiki Yanagida.
“The barrier is probably irrelevant to him because he has been racing well over a mile by being ridden cold, so he will probably get back and swoop,” Ritchie said.
“He has had a bit of time between races. He had a week off after his last run and they cancelled the Open 1500m race at Ellerslie last week, which in hindsight mightn’t of suited him anyway because it would have been on a heavy track.”
With a number of the opposition resuming or early in their preparations, Sultan Of Swing should have a base fitness edge.
“He has been in work since before Bonecrusher was broken in,” Ritchie quipped.
“Gee I love the way he is going. He is working super and a nice older horse like him often holds his form. You wouldn’t want to be leaving him out of your trifecta, that’s for sure.”
Ritchie has progressive three-year-old filly Jennifer Eccles as a dual acceptor at Hawke’s Bay, entered in both the Taupo Pak'nsave Fillies (1100m) and the Listed El Roca - Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m), where she has drawn barrier 10 and 13 respectively.
“I cannot believe we have had two rolls of the dice and missed both times,” Ritchie said. “We have bad barriers in both races. We paid to be there untill 7:30am Saturday and we will use that luxury.
“The fields look pretty even to me and either way it doesn’t look like she will be anywhere near the rail.
“She has had two wide draws in both her two-year-old runs and had three wide runs because of it or been shuffled wide at her last race on the corner.
“She is yet to have a soft run at the races but she is on a path to the 1000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) and we expect her to be hitting the line well.”
Ritchie’s other runner on the card is four-year-old gelding All Paid Up, who finished a solid fourth when resuming at Ruakaka.
“He is a big, long striding horse and I’m expecting an improved performance second-up from him back on what should be a better surface.
“He should run well. He is another that can run on the pace from a disgraceful barrier (13). At least with 1400m you have a good run down the back for Donavan Mansour to find a spot for him.” – NZ Racing Desk