Joe Pride has dismissed the wide barrier as a concern for in-form filly Ballistic Lover, who is chasing a hat-trick in the feature race at Randwick.
Trainer Joe Pride won’t be using the wide barrier as an excuse if the winning streak of talented filly Ballistic Lover ends in the Listed $150,000 Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Ballistic Lover has drawn the outside gate and will come out of stall 12 after scratchings for the feature winter sprint.
“I never worry about wide gates at Randwick in sprint races,’’ Pride said.
“I don’t know how it looks statistically but I’m convinced it doesn’t matter, particularly if you have a horse like Ballistic Lover that has the speed to off-set an outside barrier.’’
An analysis of The Sportsman newspaper barrier statistics for the past three years does not make good reading for Pride because only one winner has come out of barrier 12 over the Randwick 1100m during that period.
However, Pride knows he has Ballistic Lover in career-best form after successive wins to start this campaign, including her runaway effort to take out the Listed Ortensia Stakes at Rosehill a month ago.
Majestic Shot, who was beaten more than two lengths when second to Ballistic Lover in the Ortensia Stakes, subsequently scored a very easy win at Rosehill last Saturday to frank the form.
“We have found the key to Ballistic Lover,’’ Pride said.
“You have to find the right formula for any one horse to get them to perform at their best.
“With this filly, she prefers to have four or five weeks between runs and to keep her work short and sharp. She is electric like that.’’
Ballistic Lover, who is raced by James Moss’s Tricolours Racing syndication, is also very effective on wet tracks so Pride’s confidence is understandable, although the trainer has one concern.
“I don’t underestimate the task of going from a three-year-old fillies race straight to an open sprint,’’ Pride said.
“It’s a big leap but she won so dominantly last start I think she is a good chance of making that progression.
“Whether she does that on Saturday, she will get there eventually, but I am pretty confident. She is going very well and couldn’t be in better shape.’’
The Randwick track surface is into the heavy range, which Pride said would not be a concern for his other runners, De Grawin (City Tattersalls Club Handicap, 1000m), Snippy Fox (Drinkwise Mile, 1600m) and Brutality (Racing To Win Handicap, 1600m).
“I’ve got four absolute gun wet-trackers for Randwick,’’ Pride said.
De Grawin missed a place for the first time in her career when resuming with a well-beaten 11th behind Dream Circle at Rosehill last month.
“There seemingly wasn’t an excuse for her but it was her first go at 1100m for me,’’ Pride said.
“We got sucked into thinking she couldn’t lead and win so we tried to ride her in behind them.
“She didn’t have a lot of room, she was held up for about 200m in the straight, although she was quite weak late. I think it was a forgive run and back to the Randwick 1000m and a wet track suits her.’’
Pride rates Brutality as his stable’s best winning chance and expects Snippy Fox to run a competitive race.
Brutality has been improved by recent racing and produced an eye-catching effort when a fast-finishing third behind Lina’s Hero at Randwick two weeks ago.
“I wouldn’t imagine any of those horses that met him the other day could beat him,’’ Pride said.
“Brutality ran the best race of his life on a dry track and he absolutely loves a heavy track.
“The barrier (one) means he won’t have to be dragged back to last but he will need a bit of luck to get out. With his light weight, he will sprint very quickly.’’
Snippy Fox has been racing consistently without winning this campaign but Pride believes the mare will get her chance on Saturday.
“She is very honest, a super consistent mare, but I gave her one run too many at 1400m and she was quite one-paced last start,’’ Pride said.
“This mare has been crying out for 1600m, she has had the right preparation and is really good in the wet. She loves heavy tracks.’’
Pride has also entered Invinciano for the Precise Air Handicap (1400m) but said she was not at her best in rain-affected conditions.
“I think I will be saving Invinciano,’’ Pride said.
“She is going really well and her first-up run was very good. I don’t want to waste a run by sending her around on a surface she doesn’t like so she will almost certainly be scratched. We will wait for the right race.’’
O’Shea has eyes on special race
The race doesn’t have stakes status but trainer John O’Shea covets success in the Racing To Win Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
O’Shea, who is represented by Kirwan’s Lane and Opacity, admitted he would “love to win the race” named after his former champion racehorse.
Racing To Win won 13 of his 30 starts including Group 1 wins in the Doncaster Mile, Epsom Handicap, George Ryder Stakes, George Main Stakes and All Aged Stakes, earning more than $3.7m prizemoney.
He was retired after finishing unplaced in the 2009 Hong Kong International Mile.
“He was a special little horse, Racing To Win,’’ O’Shea said.
“When you buy them yourself and he wins five Group 1 races, he did some wonderful things.
“We have a strong hand in this race and I’m hoping one of my horses can pick it up.’’
Kirwan’s Lane, a last start winner at Rosehill, is the $3.60 favourite with Opacity, fitter for two runs from a spell, rated at $10.
O’Shea described Kirwan’s Lane as a “good horse, very simple to work out’’.
“When he draws well he is a lot more effective and usually fights out the finish,’’ the trainer said.
“From barrier six, he looks to map nicely and he has a good record at the mile. I wouldn’t want the track to get too much wetter but he is a horse in top form.’’
Opacity raced his way through the grades impressively during autumn-winter last year but he has struggled this season, managing only one minor placing from eight starts.
But O’Shea said Opacity has conditions in his favour on Saturday and suggested the chestnut is ready to run an improved race.