By Tony Megahey
Accomplished Riverina training veteran Ron Stubbs says Saturday’s TAB $60,000 Highway (1400m) at Royal Randwick was always a “target” race for talented comeback mare Lost Command in preparation for bigger occasions.
Formerly trained in Victoria by the respected Trent Basuttin and Natalie Young team, three-race winner Lost Command brings compelling form to headquarters at just her second run back from a 12-month plus spell for Stubbs.
Aside from an impressive return recently when runner-up in an unsuitable Canterbury Park 1100m, the lightly raced six-year-old Commands mare has a close fourth in Flemington Saturday class on her resume.
The Albury-based Stubbs who has won races in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and numerous Country Cups with any number of talented gallopers over the years, has himself returned to training after a 20-year absence where he focused on equestrian.
The Stubbs family is racing traditionalists with Ron’s brother Peter, the current long-serving CEO of Canberra after a similar stint managing Albury Racing Club.
“When this mare came to us, the original plan was to set her for last season’s Country Championships, but we ran out of time first prep,” Ron explained from Albury trackwork. “She had over 12 months off but there’s certainly no issues.
“She’s well-bred and lightly-raced with three wins. I think she was headed for the breeding barn, but she was thriving so the owners obviously had a change of plans.
“I’ve trained for them over the years and we’re really happy with the way this mare has come up. And she even surprised us at Canterbury.
"She was run off her legs short of her best distance and she closed off really strongly. Her Victorian form, particularly that close Flemington fourth and a Geelong win has her well-placed on Saturday.”
Lost Command carries topweight of 59kg in a Class 3 for Jay Ford who is in spectacular form. And the race tactics for Lost Command are no secret.
“She’s out to a more suitable distance from the 1100m at Canterbury. She raced on-pace for her wins at 1500m and 1600m leading at Flemington, and then when she won at Geelong is her racing pattern and we won’t be changing that.”
Significantly, Lost Command has won second-up and into the impressive Canterbury Park return, she had been primed by successive barrier trials.
Lost Command will be better than each-way odds ($12 into $9) behind recent Highway placegetters Nicconita ($4), Jean Dubois’s Gitan ($4.40) and Cameron Crockett’s Prince of Thebes ($7) with the key booking of Hugh Bowman.
The champion jockey won a city midweek treble on Crockett’s speedy Nictock early season. Dual winner So Shy is an early scratching to be reserved for a regional race.