By Ray Hickson
Trainer Nick Olive sees the switch of the South East Qualifier for the Newhaven Park Country Championships from Nowra on Sunday to Goulburn on Tuesday as a plus for consistent mare Exotic Deel.
It’s the second year running that rain has foiled Nowra’s bid to host the $150,000 race but in Olive’s estimation an extra couple of days is in his favour.
Exotic Deel burst into contention for the Qualifier with three straight wins in the spring before returning with an eye-catching third at Canterbury at the end of January and Olive has been happy to keep her fresh since.
“Having a bit more time has probably helped her,’’ Olive said.
“She galloped last Wednesday and a couple of extra days that will give her that freshness, she’s probably better today than she was yesterday.
“Whereas with other horses you’re thinking ‘do I give them a bit of work or not’.’’
Olive said while his mare handles a heavy track, and that certainly would have been the surface had the race gone ahead at Nowra, both the Goulburn circuit and slightly firmer footing will suit her.
Exotic Deel runs third at Canterbury on January 29
Rachel King has the ride on Exotic Deel, $5.50 with TAB, fresh from her Group 2 success at Randwick on Saturday aboard Colette.
With a favourable draw Olive said he’d like King to have Exotic Deel in close proximity to race favourite Art Cadeau, who has drawn a couple of gates to their inside.
“Whether that is a bit better than midfield or whatever, I’d like to see her around him and hopefully she finishes off,’’ he said.
“But a lot depends on where they race on the track, whether they want to get out off the fence or not.
“I liked the way she hit the line up in class at Canterbury and got through the wet going.
“This is definitely her biggest test but I feel she is a mare on the way up, she looks fabulous and is going well, so she is ready for the test.”
The Canberra trainer said now first emergency Successful Day has gained a start he’s anticipating the mare to give a sight up on the speed but concedes she’s unpredictable.
She was a winner at 1400m on her home track back in December but has been unplaced in two starts since then, with a subsequent barrier trial keeping her ticking over.
“She’s a free running horse, she’ll get out and probably be the leader,’’ he said.
“On her day she can be very competitive but she can also throw in a shocker.
“It depends what Successful Day turns up. I’ve just kept her fresh into this to give her the best opportunity to perform.”
First and second from the Qualifier win their way to the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 3.