He is her 'gentle giant' and is the rank outsider at $101 on TAB fixed odds for tomorrow’s $150,000 Provincial Championships Qualifier at Hawkesbury. But local trainer Wanda Ings says Prince Memnon is definitely capable of springing an upset.
Standing a massive 17.2 hands and weighing over 500kg, the four-year-old has been especially set for the race and his trainer is excitedly looking forward to having her first ever runner in a heat of the Provincial Championships.
“I am surprised Prince Memnon is at triple figure odds,” Ings said. “He definitely can run a cheeky race.”
Because of his hulking stature, Prince Memnon derived his name from an Ethiopian king, who in Greek mythology fought with great skill in the Trojan War. Ings as far back as last winter set her sights on this year’s Provincial Championships, and with that in mind gave the gelding a good spell.
“However, he put on a lot of weight during the break, and it has taken time to get him back into racing trim,” she explained. “I didn’t try to smash the weight off him quickly, but he is now race fit. Prince Memnon is a big, gentle giant and a lovely horse to deal with. Because of his size, he takes time to find his gears.”
Left: Prince Memnon and Rory Hutchings return to scale after a Hawkesbury win. Image by - Bradley Photographers
Ings has booked expatriate New Zealander Chris O’Brien to partner the gelding in the biggest assignment of his career tomorrow.
“I’m hoping the Kiwi connection works for us again,” she explained, referring to the fact that another New Zealander Rory Hutchings has been Prince Memnon’s rider in his two of his three wins so far.
Ings purposely took Prince Memnon to Royal Randwick on Boxing Day last year to give him race experience on the track which hosts the $400,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) on April 8.
“He was a bit fractious in the tunnel going out on to the track, but you only have to show him something once and he’s fine.”
Ings is hoping Prince Memnon can finish “Top 3” tomorrow, thus clinching a final berth and avoid having to take him to Kembla Grange on March 23 for the fourth of the five qualifiers.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Nick Mitchell is looking to have at least one runner in the April 8 final for the third year in a row. He qualified Radical Impact in the inaugural series in 2015 (won by Sure And Fast) and Dream Lane last year (fifth to Danish Twist).
Mitchell opted to rely on $61 outsider Belridge (Chad Lever) tomorrow, and save Dream Lane for a later qualifier.
“Belridge ran a series of minor placings before breaking through last preparation, and deserves a chance at such a good series,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know whether he is up to this class, but he worked well with Dream Lane (a city winner) the other morning.”
Mitchell has 16 boxes at Hawkesbury, and has done a good job building up his team to capacity, with a number of others waiting to come into work.
Hawkesbury has six of the 15 acceptors in tomorrow’s 1400m qualifier, with Garry White preparing current pre-post favorite Generalissimo (Tye Angland, $3.50).
Generalissimo ran a splendid third to subsequent winner Man From Uncle in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last month, and runner-up Guard Of Honour ran well in last Saturday’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield after being forced to race wide without cover.
Whilst Generalissimo takes on older horses, he's already a heavy track winner at home and is definitely going to take beating as the 1400m looks as though it will suit him ideally. Hawkesbury’s other representatives are Set Piece (Lisa Cohen & Oldrich Jiricka, $61), Reiby Rampart (Jason Attard, $15) and Shazee Lee (Scott Singleton, $26).