By Ray Hickson
The question was posed to trainer Kurt Goldman – is Ruthless Agent the horse that could spoil the Danny Williams party in Saturday’s $150,000 SERA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Goulburn?
It didn’t take long for Goldman to respond with “he is that horse’’.
“Danny has a strong hand with some of the horses he has in there but this bloke is up to most of them on his day,’’ he said.
“Outside Don’t Give A Damn, who looks above the rest, any of the others he has the measure of.’’
Ruthless Agent is top weight for the South East Qualifier due to his five career wins and Goldman, who has been holidaying in the United States this week, said he’s had a perfect preparation.
So it’s a small surprise, given Goldman’s comments, that he’s been largely ignored as a $26 chance with TAB.
The four-year-old, who ran fourth in the Goulburn heat last year at his fifth career start, rounded out his bid with an eye-catching fifth in a Benchmark 78 at Canterbury on February 2.
Watch out for Ruthless Agent hitting the line late at Canterbury on February 2
“He's the only horse that's won five races and has to carry the 59kg but you could look at it the other way and say he's well weighted against some of the others,’’ Goldman said.
“He doesn't like to be backed up every fortnight so, once he won in Queensland, Canterbury was the ideal race to put him in three weeks out.
“He made up ground against the pattern and it looks the right form. We've got another nice gallop into him and then kept him fresh for this race.’’
At Canterbury, Ruthless Agent ran his last 600m, according to Punters Intel, in 34.68 with a solid last 200m of 11.42.
Goldman said the gelding has really developed in the 12 months since he ran fourth behind Pumpkin Pie last year with wins in the Anniversary Cup at Goulburn in November and his Gold Coast Benchmark 80 win just before Christmas.
Mitchell Bell, who rode Ruthless Agent in last year’s Qualifier and to two of his five career wins, is back on board for the first time since that Goulburn victory three months ago.
“The last two or three months of his career have been amongst his best,’’ Goldman said.
“He's changed a lot since he was a young horse, we've changed the amount of work he does and we seem to have a handle on him.
“He's won over 1400m, won a Saturday metro benchmark race and is coming out of nice form races. On his day he has the ability if we get the conditions to suit.’’
The only other horse Goldman had considered for the Country Champoionships this year was handy three-year-old Equal Balance, a Highway winner at Rosehill in November, but he’s been saved for a Queensland Winter campaign.
First and second from the Goulburn heat will earn a place in the $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 7.