By Tony Megahey
With the $1.3 million dollar The Kosciuszko tantalizingly on the horizon and the welcome TAB Highway return last week of powerful ACT stables, Saturday’s episode at Rosehill Gardens has attracted one of the hottest fields since inception.
Prolific series winners Danny Williams and Matthew Dunn confront familiar ACT adversaries amidst a prizemoney increase to $75,000 for a 1200m class 3, prompting a capacity field.
ACT’s Matthew Dale, the Keith Dryden and Scott Collings stable, the Joseph and Jones team and Nick Olive have enjoyed multiple series success with numerous exciting country prospects.
Particularly Dryden and Collings on Saturday. They rated dominant dual-race winner Handle the Truth, a three-year-old Star Witness gelding, talented enough to contest last season’s Canberra Black Opal and his lower grade wins since have been impressive.
“He’s come back super,” Collings enthused. “We’ve always had a big opinion of him as he’s shown us exceptional ability since he was a baby.
“We thought he had the potential for us to go to the Black Opal but he was probably at the end of his prep then.
“He’s really matured as a three-year old, as his last win indicates. He’s carried decent weights too.”
Handle the Truth resumed at Goulburn three weeks ago over 1000m and won by a widening three lengths in sizzling time with 58kg.
“Dropping back to 53.5 kg, a soft draw and with leading hopes drawn out are factors in our favour,” Collings said.
“We won’t be looking to lead, we’ve got the options from the draw. He’s been just as dominant with a sit so we’ll be looking to possie just off the pace again.
“Logically Danny’s two, Highway Sixtysix and My Blue Jeans, look hardest to beat but it’s a really strong race and big field.
“The run of Highway Sixtysix was super last start and she’s a quality mare. But I do think a full field indicates everybody is accommodated and happy with the return of the ACT stables.”
In early markets Handle the Truth is second favourite at $4.60 behind Highway Sixtysix who heads the betting at $3.0 for Williams and James McDonald. The champion Kiwi jockey does have to navigate at his very best from barrier 14 in a capacity field. However with Williams rating Highway Sixtysix a potential group mare her quality is the massive factor. My Blue Jeans is expected to run a huge race, combining Kerrin McEvoy and barrier two.
Punters be aware that Williams said his pair were “vulnerable” resuming from a break two weeks ago and will take “major improvement on whatever they do.”