By Ray Hickson
Do the pros outweigh the cons when assessing the chances of Group 1 placed mare Eckstein at Randwick on Saturday?
It’s a question her trainer Kurt Goldman would be thinking ahead of the Listed $150,000 Christmas Classic (1200m) where she returns from an eight week break with her main aim two weeks away.
Goldman said it’s not ideal to be coming back from a mile to 1200m and she’s usually vulnerable first-up (cons) but feels she’s nicely weighted and is experimenting with winkers (pros).
“Natural ability is going to carry her a long way, she’s a genuine contender and is always competitive,’’ Goldman said.
“First-up she always gets quite nervous at the races but we’re down in the weights compared to a few others and we’re quite well off.
“I’m planning for her to have a good hit-out and a good blow, she’ll strip fitter then head to Queensland.’’
What do you make of Eckstein's trial at Rosehill on December 22?
Eckstein was the $5 second favourite with TAB on Friday morning behind Music Magnate ($3.30) and she hasn’t raced since being touched out by Shoals in the Group 1 Myer Classic on November 4.
Goldman is hopeful the freshen up and a barrier trial will be sufficient to help make a lie of her first-up statistics.
“She’s come along great, she hasn’t had long off since her Melbourne campaign and has held on to some residual fitness,’’ he said.
“She’s never won first-up but every other time she’s been coming off a longer spell. I thought her trial was a lot more forward than what she generally shows.’’
It was jockey Brenton Avdulla’s idea to try winkers on Eckstein and Goldman said they may assist in keeping her in touch in the Christmas Classic.
He didn’t want to wait until Magic Millions day to try them out so they’re having a dry run on Saturday.
“We talked about it in Melbourne but going into the Group 1 we didn’t want to be changing anything,’’ he said.
“When he trialled the other day he made the comment again that it wouldn’t be a bad idea. She’s galloped in them a few times at home.’’
Goldman elected to run stablemate Equal Balance in the Tab.com.au Handicap (1100m) in preference to Saturday’s TAB Highway despite it being the tougher option.
The three-year-old was narrowly beaten by Epidemic at Rosehill four weeks ago and Punters Intel data revealed he covered more ground than his three rivals in going down 0.3 lengths.
“He was probably looking for a bit further then, they sprinted a bit quicker than him,’’ Goldman said.
“He’s had a freshen up now and out of those four horses he was the one that did the most work.
“It’s tougher than the Highway but it looks like it will map better for him. He’s a better horse fresh and when there’s a bit more speed.’’
Equal Balance is a $5 chance with TAB in a wide open market.