By Ray Hickson
The last time jockey Jason Collett went out of his way to take a ride in a Newhaven Park Country Championships Qualifier he guided an emerging mare into the Final so he’s hoping history repeats when he rides Amy’s Shadow in the $150,000 feature at Mudgee on Sunday.
Two years ago Collett was lured to Grafton to partner La Scopa for Matthew Dunn and the mare proved a class above and it’s been on the radar for some time for the jockey to head west to continue his association with Gulgong trainer Brett Thompson’s handy mare.
The pair combined to win TAB Highway races at Rosehill in September and Randwick in October and Collett said Amy’s Shadow appeals to him as the type of horse that will be competitive if he can get her into the $500,000 Final on April 3.
“At the time I didn’t really think that far ahead but she does look up to it,’’ Collett said.
“I made an effort that day to try to have her a bit closer at Rosehill, she was out of her comfort zone the whole race and was able to kick. That said to me she has a bit more than most Highway horses.
“The second win was really good over a mile on Spring Champion Day and they tried her up over 2000m a month later but it was all probably a bit much.
“In a high pressure 1400m back at Randwick it would suit. We have to get there first.”
Collett, who won the $1.3m country feature The Kosciuszko on It's Me back in October, will head to Mudgee on a specially chartered plane that will include champion jockey Hugh Bowman on what has become an annual pilgrimage back to his Central Districts roots.
Amy’s Shadow, $34 in TAB's all-in market on the Final, has had one run back from a spell for an eye-catching fourth behind Wild Rocket in the 1300m Country Championships Preview at Dubbo earlier this month under 61kg.
It’s a run trainer Brett Thompson, who will also run Slatey Bay in the race, said she needed adding she’ll be aided by dropping to 56kg and a rain affected surface would give him more confidence.
“I thought she was pretty good, she was held up behind a slow horse with a big weight,’’ he said.
“Her last 100m was really good when she got a bit of clean air and got mobile. You can’t sit and sprint with 61kg on your back.
“She shouldn’t be too dour and I think she will be spot on for 1400m at Mudgee.”
Thompson’s lone runner in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) to date came in the inaugural series in 2015 with Apistanna who finished 11th behind Artlee.
He doesn’t want to have to use next month’s Muswellbrook Wild Card as Amy’s Shadow wouldn’t be suited by coming back to the shorter 1280m distance.
“If we get a soft track it will make the final like a 1500m or 1600m race but she still has to run first or second to get there,’’ he said.
“Things can go wrong, if she doesn’t qualify at Mudgee she’ll have to go to Muswellbrook but that’s not in her favour.”
Slatey Bay finished a few lengths behind Amy’s Shadow in the Preview at Dubbo at his only lead-up to the Qualifier and Thompson was left scratching his head a bit as he expected a little more.
Amy's Shadow runs fourth at Dubbo on February 14
The five-year-old was a winner over 1500m at Muswellbrook and finished a close fourth in a Benchmark 68 at Gosford before a spell.
“He was quite disappointing the other day, I expected him to finish his race off better than he did,” he said.
“Sometimes that happens and you have to put it in the background and forget about it. He could come out and put a blinder in.
“He has been known to put a bad one in before and come out and turn it all around.
“His Muswellbrook win was good and I thought it was a better run at Gosford when he ran fourth.”
Like Amy's Shadow, Thompson said Slatey Bay is probably more at home at 1600m but he’s never won first-up in the past and two of his four wins have come at the 1400m so there's room for him to lift.