By Brad Gray
Tom Melbourne’s luckless first up showing could see Chris Waller change tact with the seven-year-old with Saturday’s $200,000 Group Two Tramway Stakes (1400m) a fork in the road.
He was a notorious rascal to punters in Melbourne when under the care of Lee Freedman with the penchant to over race, which is part the reason why Waller has sent him out to tackle 1400m again.
“I’m keen to keep some speed in his legs. His first up run as very promising but he looks to me like he still does a few little things wrong so the best way is to take him out of the zone where he is too keen is to keep him to the shorter distances,” Waller said.
“It worked well first up and he should have won, obviously Washington Heights was unlucky in the race as well, but I’ll try him again over 1400m and that’ll say whether we target mile to 1800m races or go beyond that.”
The Group One Metropolitan over 2400m was pencilled in as the OTI-owned galloper's original spring grand final when but maybe, just maybe, the Irish import is too brilliant for the longer journey.
“I’m think he is a little bit sharper than that. We often fall into the trap of thinking that because they are European or English that they will stay but it’s not always the case. Horses like a change in their routine and softer training so that could see him thrive over the mile,” Waller offered.
“We’ve got to try to split our horses up because we are strong in the Epsom already. We've got up and comers like Foxplay, Egg Tart and Comin’ Through but I also want to avoid Winx in the George Main.
“Maybe the Makybe Diva (at Flemington) and then there is the Hill Stakes. There are so many options over the spring but we’ve got to try to start separating them.”
It’s been three weeks since we saw Tom Melbourne step out at Rosehill, dashing quickly when finally clear only to go down narrowly to Kingsguard.
“He had a quite week the first week and we’ve stepped his workload up since then. He knew he had a race but his work has been really good in the last two weeks.”
Meanwhile, Waller will also be represented in the race by Mackintosh, who failed to fire in the Stradbroke Handicap the last time we saw him, and the pint-sized McCreery.
“(Mackintosh) only had two weeks off through winter and has been in work for most of the time since the Stradbroke. He should be fairly fit, although he has drawn wide. This time last year he was flying and he ran a close third in the Epsom. He’s not far off that form so he should run well,” Waller said.
“(McCreery) has been a very unlucky horse and is a worthy Group One contender. He’s another candidate for the Epsom. He is a smaller horse so the less weight he has the better.
“He was disappointing in the Epsom last year but was very unlucky in the Cantala and also very unlucky in the Doncaster. He’ll get his chance this spring.”