By Tony Megahey
A concentrated Goulburn betting plunge and the retention of Corey Brown is the strongest possible push for Japanese import Bocelli into a TAB Rosehill Gardens $60,000 Highway Class 3 (1400m) on Saturday.
Tash Burleigh’s Shamardal (USA) gelding was backed from $1.90 to $1.60 when he spaced his rivals at home recently, significantly in a rare trip to Goulburn for the multiple Group-winning jockey and Melbourne Cup winner. Previously, Bocelli started equal favourite in finishing third to Matthew Dunn’s highly-rated Dia de Reyes in a 'Gardens' 1200m episode last month.
According to Tash, a former jockey and stable foreperson for the late Graeme Spackman, she is seeing a new dimension in the Japanese foaling that has the upside of three wins from just five race starts.
Bocelli has relished an increase in distance and has improved lengths since his first city foray.
“He had some quirks but it’s exciting the way he’s putting it together now, and we were always confident he’d appreciate more ground,” Tash enthused.
“We purposely kept him back in distance while he was learning what it was all about. He’s only had the five race starts, he’s really progressive; I ride him work and he’s got real character.
“Corey said he gave him a nice feel the way he travelled and let down, and he’s happy to be on him again. His owners won a race the other day with his breeding lines, and they’ve got others coming through, so it’s exciting for all involved.
“I think the Shamardals do get over more ground and this gelding certainly appreciated it. He’s not overly big, but he’s compact and strong and we’re happy going into Saturday. His work has been really nice for me since his last win.”
At his initial Highway start, Bocelli closed off strongly over 1200m for Blake Spriggs who had ridden him for a runaway Goulburn win in just his third race start in March.
Significantly, Bocelli carried 58kg in that Highway, so is the ‘weighted’ runner on Saturday with 57.5 kg for Brown after carrying 59.5kg in winning at Goulburn. And a decent pointer is Danny Williams’s Tiger by the Tale, a distant third, has city form.
Saturday’s episode has considerable depth. Prolific series winner Dunn has accepted with Realing and last start winner Wallander.
Jeremy Sylvester’s Gronky, who was well-backed at long odds and powered home for third in a recent episode won by My Blue Jeans, is again on the 53kg limit for Rachel King. Bocelli is likely to share favouritism in early markets, with Rosehill presently an improving soft 6 after recent heavy tracks in Sydney.