By Tony Megahey
Rising TAB Highway contender Cameron Crockett seldom misses in his rare trips to Sydney after tapping into the invaluable judgment of Hugh Bowman and Greg Ryan.
The young Mudgee trainer and Ryan have a high opinion of powerful gelding The Frick, who resumes in a typically strong $60,000 TAB Highway (Class 3, 1300m) episode at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Meanwhile Bowman, relishing his recent award as the world’s premier jockey, rode Crockett’s star sprinter Nictock for a winning treble at Canterbury Park and Warwick Farm mid-season. Nictock -
at Ryan’s urging after earlier country wins - had been highly competitive in previous Highway events.
After Ryan rode The Frick for an impressive winning double at Dubbo mid-season, the champion country rider was confident the five-year-old Teofilo gelding would measure up to Highway grade in town.
However, after nominating for a Randwick Highway in late May, Crockett elected to spell The Frick and give him more time to mature.
He resumed with a barrier trial at Orange, significantly, ridden by Ryan on December 12, and another at Scone two weeks later.
“The priorities are the Country Championships heat up here and to try and qualify for that big money Anniversary Highway,” Cameron explained. “Greg and I agree that he’s still very immature and green, but he’s got untapped ability and bringing him to Randwick in better grade will do wonders for him experience wise.
"He’s short of his best on Saturday, but in saying that, he still has the ability to run a race from those two trials. We need a competitive Highway showing to be eligible for the big one.
“First prep, Greg’s ability and coaxing got him home twice when he hasn’t been fully switched on. And they were big wins suggesting so much upside.
“But eligibility for the Anniversary was always the plan, so the timing was right early in his prep to run in Sydney leading into our regional Championships Heat. He’ll be right at his top then. But I’m happy with his progress coming to Randwick and we’ve got the right rider in form.”
Blake Shinn will ride The Frick at 57.5kg and barrier eight is of little consequence, as The Frick’s racing style is to settle back in the field and power home. He came from rearward for Greg Ryan in both wins over 1600m and 1400m at Dubbo in May.
Crockett also has accepted with lesser-performed stablemate Kingsbridge who was at lengthy odds when last in a Rosehill Gardens Highway in July. Crockett is hopeful Kingsbridge can improve after contesting the same Orange and Scone barrier trials as The Frick.
The Frick will be wider in the markets behind the imposing presence of ten-time Highway winner Danny Williams with Rosehill series winner O’Lordy and the highly-rated Mister Marmalade, back in form after a recent Goulburn win.
Danny’s Canterbury Park maiden runner-up Kopi Luwak is also highly promising. Williams will finalise his runners and riders later in the week.
Matthew Dunn with 13 series wins, again will be strong in the market with last start impressive Ipswich winner Runway Ready, who was a close fourth in a Highway at headquarters in June won by Conniving.