By Ray Hickson
If Corey Brown can steer Suncraze to victory at Royal Randwick on Saturday the satisfaction will be hard to top even if he claims any of the Group 1 races that follow.
That’s due to a long-standing friendship with the talented gelding’s trainer Melanie O’Gorman.
That friendship is the reason Brown drove to Muswellbrook a couple of months ago just to ride the horse in a barrier trial and he’d love to hand O’Gorman her biggest win as a trainer in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m).
“Mel’s been a good friend so when she told me he was trialling I had nothing on so I decided to go and help her out as well as get a feel for how the horse had come back,’’ Brown said.
“I think he’s a nice horse and I’ve had a good association with Mel.
“It’s great for her to get a horse like this to bring to the city. It’s a big plus and a feather in her cap and Anthony Gow-Gates is a great owner so she deserves it.’’
Suncraze, equal favourite on Wednesday with Don’t Give A Damn at $4.20 with TAB, qualified for the Final with a heart-stopping win in the Scone Qualifier (1400m) on March 18 and Brown admits he’s still not sure how the horse won.
But that doesn’t matter so much now, it’s all about what the four-year-old can produce on Day 1 of The Championships that is on Brown’s mind.
“He’s been good to me. He was a bit of a bridesmaid but I’ve worked him out fairly quickly,’’ Brown said.
“He’s a weird character, sometimes you feel like you’re riding two or three horses in the race. But if he puts his mind on it he’s definitely a city class horse.’’
Following the Muswellbrook trial, Tamworth-based O’Gorman intended to kick off Suncraze’s Championships bid in a Highway at Warwick Farm but had to refocus after he was handed 62kg.
A week later Suncraze proved that he was city class when he won first-up in a Benchmark 85 race at Royal Randwick on February 17.
“She’s set him for the race and done everything right to help him to get there in good form,’’ Brown said.
In his first-up win Suncraze ran 11.83 (Punters Intel) for his last 200m and his final 200m at Scone was run in 12.20, the second fastest of the Qualifier behind My Tagoson (12.08).
Brown is adamant that 1400m is the perfect distance for Suncraze, whose record is now five wins and seven seconds from 12 starts, and it’s also the trip at which he’s produced his best efforts.
Suncraze arrives in time to win the Scone Qualifier on March 18
He showed off his talent at his first 1400m start when he snapped a run of six consecutive seconds to win a Highway at Randwick last July and was unlucky when narrowly beaten in the $200,000 Anniversary Highway on Everest Day.
His only other 1400m attempt so far was the Scone Qualifier where he looked beaten on the turn but mowed the field down.
“I wouldn’t say he won’t get further, I reckon he will,’’ Brown said.
“He will if you could take the blinkers off him and leave him alone but he needs the blinkers to focus him. So seven furlongs is his ideal trip.’’
Brown’s Group 1 roster on Saturday includes the plum ride on $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) second favourite In Her Time as well as classy colt D’Argento in the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) and The Lord Mayor in the $2m Harrolds Australian Derby (2400m).