By Ray Hickson
All attention will rightly be on superstar Winx as she begins her final preparation with a barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday but fittingly another topliner in Trapeze Artist will headline his own trial as he begins his farewell tour.
And trainer Gerald Ryan is hoping to steal Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman to ride his star sprinter when he resumes in next month’s Expressway Stakes.
Shortly after Winx has her spin against the likes of Alizee, Ace High and Performer, the reigning TJ Smith Stakes winner and Everest runner-up appears in the following 900m course proper trial with the likes of D'Argento, Lean Mean Machine and Shillelagh for company.
If Bowman isn’t available to ride Trapeze Artist in the trial James Innes Jnr will likely do the steering, in the absence of regular jockey Tye Angland.
Ryan said Trapeze Artist came back 20kg heavier from his spell and won’t wear blinkers in the trial.
“He does what he has to do but when he jumped out the other day that was the best he’s gone in a jump out,’’ Ryan said.
“He’s bright and well, his attitude is great, he’s eating his feed and hasn’t changed any of his habits.
“You have to keep the work up to him because he doesn’t do a lot himself.’’
When Ryan weighed Trapeze Artist last Friday he tipped the scales at 565kg which is around the weight from his Theo Marks first-up run back in September.
Last season’s champion three-year-old, now four, will probably have a second barrier trial before the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) on February 2, a race he won last year.
He’s then on a collision course two weeks later with Winx in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m), which is expected to be when the champion shoots for 30 straight wins.
“We’re not going there to take on Winx, we’re going there because it fits in with his preparation,’’ he said.
Winx is back!
Here’s the field for the opening 900m CP trial @rosehillgardens on Tuesday at 8.15am:
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) January 11, 2019
The aim for Trapeze Artist is to defend the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes and All Aged Stakes crowns he won last autumn and he’ll also likely tackle the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) on March 9 along the way.
Whether he finishes his career at Royal Ascot will depend on his form and owner Bert Vieira’s wishes.
Meanwhile, Ryan said comeback sprinter Menari is doing some work on the water walker in preparation for his return to training after a disappointing start to his stud career.
He said Menari appears in good shape after a suspensory strain put a premature end to his racing days and is hopeful he can have a Brisbane winter campaign and target The Everest.
Menari was originally secured for a slot in the 2018 Everest by Max Whitby and Neil Werrett prior to his retirement.