By Tony Megahey
A precocious two-start country rookie who has spaced rivals at 'Winx odds' demands bigger occasions from Tamworth trainer Sue Grills and champion regional jockey Greg Ryan.
Unbeaten Burning Crown ($2.10 favourite on TAB fixed odds) is likely the most promising talent for Sue since her retired Listed class flyer Fickle Folly, and her newcomer contests a TAB $75,000 Class 3, Highway Handicap, (1100m) on another booming Group occasion at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Punters couldn’t get a stronger push than from Ryan. The 3600+ race winning veteran, rode Burning Crown for wins in brilliant time at Gunnedah and Scone and is prepared to forego full books at regional meetings for a rare Sydney trip, and likely just one ride.
“Neither of us gets carried away, but he’s a lovely actioned type - really progressive and Greg was happy to come to Sydney,” Sue offered.
However, despite the strength of wins in modest company by a total of nine lengths plus in fast time with Ryan aboard at $1.28 and $1.65, Sue is wary.
“A heavy track is an unknown for him because he hasn’t been exposed to those conditions. He can go a bit hard in the lead and obviously he’s still learning but we’ve drawn nicely and I’ll leave it up to Greg how he rides in the conditions.
“But we haven’t any rain up here. We’d love to get what they had in Sydney and other regions.”
Significantly, Ryan who passed 3500 career wins last season, rode the three-year–old gelding when he won a Scone Open trial impressively in early August. And Ryan took it to the next exciting level when he put gaps in his rivals at Gunnedah and Scone in recent weeks. Sue carefully spaced his only race starts over a month.
Burning Crown showed the quality and versatility to lead and extend in his Gunnedah maiden win, and then power from mid-field on the bigger Scone stretches.
On Saturday, Burning Crown concedes race experience to numerous form rivals in a big field where each has had a dozen or more race starts. And vitally are proven in wet conditions for successful Highway stables.
Among them the Matthew Dunn stable and the Dryden and Collings team who provide the highly promising Handle the Truth ($4.60) who will be fancied on the strength of a Rosehill Gardens series win early last month on a heavy 8 track.
However, Ryan’s judgment is all consuming for his hordes of regional punting followers. He rarely misses when he rates a country winner progressive enough to bring to town.
And it’s worth remembering Ryan convinced young Dubbo trainer Clint Lundholm to bring speedster Larlabrook to Sydney when he won a TAB Highway at headquarters in September last year.