By Ray Hickson
Shoalhaven trainer Terry Robinson has no hesitation in rating emerging four-year-old Art Cadeau his best chance of a breakthrough Newhaven Park Country Championships win at Goulburn on Tuesday.
Art Cadeau heads the TAB betting for the $150,000 South East Qualifier ($2.30), which was to be run at Nowra on Sunday but transferred to Goulburn due to wet weather, and second elect for the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final ($15) so expectations are high.
Surprisingly, Robinson has only had one runner in the Country Championships series since its inception in 2015 – Our Rosemaree contested the Wild Card in 2019 after slipping over on the afternoon of the Qualifier in Goulburn.
So Tuesday is his debut in a district Qualifier and he’ll have two hopes with tough mare Lady Demi joining Art Cadeau in the feature.
“He’s definitely my best hope, there’s a lot to like about him,’’ Robinson said.
“He’s still improving and that’s the good part about him.
“Maybe we are lacking that standout horse or two we’ve had over the past few years. I don’t think he’s up to a horse like (2019 Final winner) Noble Boy.
“But he’s a nice honest horse and hopefully he is better again when he comes back into work next prep because he has improved each time.”
You’d struggle to find a more consistent horse than Art Cadeau – he’s had nine starts for three wins and six second placings – and if Robinson’s prediction that he’s not reached his ceiling yet is correct he looms large over the 2021 series.
Not only does he never run a bad race he’s adept in all conditions and that will be important with a rain affected surface likely.
“He was a very immature horse early on and not a very good doer,’’ Robinson said.
“Now he’s a different horse, he’s so much better in himself, he does well and handles things better.
“He’s a really good racehorse, he’s probably a better racehorse than he is a worker. Which is another good trait to have in a horse.
“He can take up a position, he’ll try and he will go in any conditions.”
The gelding earned top billing with a dominant TAB Highway win over 1100m at Randwick three weeks ago and it also convinced leading Sydney jockey Tommy Berry to commit to riding on Sunday.
Art Cadeau drew ideally in barrier two and Robinson said he’s been looking for a trip like 1400m.
“It really pleased Tommy, he was very excited. He rang me that night and was very happy with the horse and looking forward to the Championship heat,’’ he said.
“He has run second over 1400m and 1500m so I don’t think the journey will worry him. He looks like a mile horse so hopefully the 1400m is ideal for him.
“Unfortunately the track is going to be rain affected. Because the horse is such a trier he will have a go and try and get through it.”
Art Cadeau wins at Randwick on January 23
Lady Demi has only raced twice in the past 12 months due to injury but her first-up effort, when a fast finishing fifth, in last Saturday week’s TAB Highway at Randwick earned her a berth.
The six-year-old has had 20 starts, which is the limit for eligibility, and Robinson said it was great to see her comeback performance so had no hesitation in backing her up.
“I haven’t had her on a heavy track yet but she is a nice mare when she is right,’’ he said.
“Her run was good the other day, she did over race a bit which didn’t help her finish off but she has done a treat.
“I’ve always had a good opinion of her and I think she deserves a chance at it. Normally these races are high pressure where they run along, hopefully it works out that way and she will get her chance.”
Adrian Layt rides Lady Demi, who drew gate seven and was $26 with TAB on Monday.