By Chris Scholtz
Randwick trainer Peter Snowden will rely on back-in-form sprinter I Thought So to add to his record as the leading modern-day trainer of Ramornie Handicap winners at Grafton next month.
Snowden won his third Ramornie and his first in partnership with his son Paul when his classy sprinter Calanda beat The Monstar and stablemate Flippant in last year’s Listed sprint over 1200m.
Snowden previously won successive Ramornie Handicaps in 2010 and 2011 with Pinwheel and Jerezana when he was head trainer for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley stable.
His three wins have made Snowden the most successful Ramornie trainer since Queenslander Neville Russell won the race five times between 1933 and 1940, including four successive wins with his remarkable sprinter Cuban Song.
Snowden was preparing last year’s winner Calanda for another tilt at the Ramornie and he looked to be on target after resuming with a closing third behind The Monstar and Platinum Angel in the G2 Moreton Cup (1200m) at the Sunshine Coast on June 2.
However, Calanda won’t make it back to Grafton for the $160,000 Grafton Services Club Ramornie on July 11 after he suffered a joint injury that ruled him out of last Saturday’s Healy Stakes at Doomben.
“Calanda is back in our Randwick stable getting treatment for a joint problem and won’t be going to Grafton,” Snowden said. “However, I Thought So will definitely be going to Grafton. He’s in winning form and the Ramornie looks an ideal race for him.”
Previously trained by David Pfeiffer, I Thought So has had only three starts for the Snowdens and left his reputation as a professional placegetter behind him after recording a strong win at Randwick last Saturday over 1200m. It was the first win for I Thought So since March of last year with the 4YO placed in eight of his next 13 starts before redeeming himself last Saturday.
Glyn Schofield rode I Thought So last Saturday but will not be available for the Ramornie ride on the sprinter: “Glyn Schofield will be away so I will have to see what riders from Sydney and Brisbane are available for the Ramornie meeting,” Snowden said.
Brisbane jockeys Jim Byrne (Calanda) and Larry Cassidy (Flippant) rode the Snowden runners in last year’s Ramornie. The Monstar, the Brett Cavanough-trained sprinter who split the Snowden runners last year, is set to return to Grafton for another tilt at the Ramornie. He seems assured of the topweight after his game win under 57kg in the Moreton Cup at the Sunshine Coast on June 2.
The Monstar just failed to set a modern-day weight-carrying record in the Ramornie last year when he was beaten in a photo finish under 59.5kg and is likely to get a similar weight this year. Since the 1920s only five horses have won the Ramornie carrying more than 57kg, Scottish Crag’s victory under 9st 8lbs (61kg) in 1965 being the highest since Ready Aye Ready won under a massive 10st 5lbs (65.5kg) in 1920. The highest winning weight since 1965 has been 57.5kg carried by Cangronde in 1996.
Snowden was considering a start in the $50,000 South Grafton Cup (1600m) on July 8 for last Saturday’s Doomben winner Grande Rosso but has ruled him out after going over the conditions of the race.
“I would expect Grande Rosso to get close to the maximum topweight of 62kg in the South Grafton Cup. It would be a bit too much weight for him,” Snowden said. “I doubt I will have a Grafton Cup runner or a three-year-old for the Grafton Guineas but there may be a restricted horse or two that could make the trip with I Thought So.”