By Ray Hickson
Comments from trainer Danny Williams that promising galloper Don’t Give A Damn has improved this preparation tell jockey Kerrin McEvoy he’s riding a serious Country Championships contender at Rosehill on Saturday.
McEvoy returns to the saddle this weekend after a six week break, with two rides on Friday night, following a freak accident where he broke his hand prior to Christmas and not only does he pair with one of Williams’ top Country Championships hopes he’s warming the saddle on Golden Slipper second favourite Performer.
Don’t Give A Damn makes his return in the Fresh For Kids Handicap (1300m) and Williams said following a Highway win last month that the gelding had “improved three lengths’’ since he last raced in October.
Williams has Acquittal and Kopi Luwak contesting the TAB Highway on the same program on Saturday and the trio comprise his major contenders.
“He went to a good level last time, improving each time I rode him,’’ McEvoy said of Don't Give A Damn.
Don't Give A Damn's impressive win on Everest Day at Randwick in October
“He put them to the sword at his last couple of wins and it’s pleasing to hear Danny say he’s improved.’’
Don’t Give A Damn has won three of his four starts, his only defeat at the hands of the smart Suncraze, and holds the record for the biggest winning margin in a Highway through his 6.5 length win at Rosehill on September 23.
He made short work of the Anniversary Highway Consolation on Everest Day, leading throughout after jumping from the extreme outside.
The four-year-old, who will wear concussion plates on his front feet, was the $3.90 second favourite on Thursday for his resumption with exciting colt Kaonic the $3.20 favourite.
“He’s a horse that can definitely show up fresh and run a really good race,’’ McEvoy said.
“There’s a couple of horses that have shown good ability, he’s stepping into a different league but rightly so given the way he’s been beating other horses.’’
The $150,000 Country Championships Qualifiers commence on February 18 with Don't Give A Damn scheduled to line up in the Goulburn heat on February 24.
With Hugh Bowman suspended, McEvoy partners the shortest priced favourite of the day at Rosehill in Performer who is the $1.60 elect for the Group 3 $150,000 Canonbury Stakes (1100m).
The colt created a big impression with his Breeders’ Plate win on debut and Saturday’s race will be McEvoy’s first chance to sit on his back.
“There’s a fair bit of talk about him and rightly so given his first-up win and his trials back this time,’’ he said.
“He’s an exciting young horse.’’
With a field of five in the Canonbury the result would seem a formality but McEvoy said he takes nothing for granted particularly with inexperienced young horses.
“It might be a bit of a tactical race,’’ he said.
“Obviously there was a lot of speed in his first-up win. He looks a horse that will travel well and enjoy a nice tempo so I’ll have to ride according to how the race unfolds.’’
Meanwhile, McEvoy will be back on board inaugural The Everest winner Redzel in his second trial this preparation at Rosehill on Monday.
McEvoy was still on the sidelines with his hand injury when the gelding ran seventh on February 5 and he’ll again meet Winx, along with another five Group 1 winners, in the 1000m trial.
“I rode him work (Thursday morning) and he’s come on from that first trial and he felt in great order so I’m looking forward to Monday’s trial,’’ he said.