By Ray Hickson
She hasn’t really been on The Kosciuszko radar so far but trainer Edward O’Rourke is hoping that all changes when Tardis heads to Rosehill on Saturday.
O’Rourke, who is now based at Murwillumbah, is sending three horses to Sydney but the focus is very much on the five-year-old announcing herself as a contender for the $1.3m country feature in October.
Like a lot of hopefuls starting their charge, Tardis is currently not in the TAB Kosciuszko market but might well be after she tackles the Xtravagant At Newhaven Park Sprint (1200m).
“She needs to be putting herself in the picture this weekend to have a chance of getting into the race,’’ O’Rourke said.
“She’s only had 24 starts, she’s rated 80 in the country and three starts back she ran in the Silk Stocking, a Listed race, and was only beaten 1.4 lengths against some good sprinters.
“It’s a great race to be involved in, there are some pretty handy horses around and I’m looking forward to bringing her down and seeing what she can do.
“If she got in whoever takes her would get a very good run for their money.”
The mare was having her second start for O’Rourke when she ran a fast-finishing fifth in the Sir James Kirby (1000m) at Grafton on July 9, clocking the fastest last 600m (32.80, Punter’s Intelligence) of the race.
The Grafton carnival produced the inaugural The Kosciuszko winner Belflyer, who ran second in the Ramornie in 2018, and O’Rourke said he couldn’t have been happier with how Tardis performed in a race that didn’t suit her.
“I was really happy with her run over 1000m, she’d never run over that before and she savaged the line,’’ he said.
“She’s going the right way for us at the moment and she will appreciate the softer track in Sydney.’’
Apprentice Tom Sherry has been booked for the ride to take 3kg off the 59kg Tardis has been asked to carry and, from a favourable draw, O’Rourke said to expect her to settle a lot closer than she did at Grafton now she’s up to 1200m.
“Her best runs have been when she’s making it or very close to the speed. The barrier forced us to be back where we were at Grafton,’’ he said.
“I think she will be there at the end fighting it out, she will be very competitive and I think she will come on again.’’
A quarter of O’Rourke’s horses in work will be in action at Rosehill with stayer Nemingah, coming off a gallant fourth in the Grafton Cup, and three-year-old Group Think joining Tardis on the truck.
Nemingah won the Cup Prelude prior to being beaten 1.9 lengths by Sixties Groove so the ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation Handicap (2400m) is a drop in class and O’Rourke said a repeat effort should see him prominent at the finish.
Tardis runs fifth at Grafton on July9
Group Think runs in the TAB Highway (1500m) after hitting the line from last into fourth in the Grafton Guineas over a mile and, according to the trainer, is still on the way up.
“He was very competitive in the Grafton Guineas, we had to get back a long way out of the ground,’’ O’Rourke said.
“He must have been 12 lengths off them at the top of the straight and were only beaten a length. He’s come on from that, his work has been nice and sharp and he seems to be getting better.”
The third running of the $1.3m The Kosciuszko (1200m) at Royal Randwick will be held on October 17 and the $5 tickets are on sale via TAB outlets and the TAB app until Wednesday 8 September with the 14 winners drawn a day later.
The 14 winners can then enter into a partnership with the owners of their preferred horse, effectively becoming a part-owner for the day, and agree to a split of the prizemoney.