By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gerald Ryan says it’s unlikely Trapeze Artist will lead in his attempt to make it back-to-back wins in Saturday’s Group 1 $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick.
The four-time Group 1 winner posted his first win since last year’s All Aged Stakes when he led throughout under Blake Shinn to claim the Canterbury Stakes a month ago but Ryan believes repeating those tactics may not work this time around.
But he says Trapeze Artist couldn’t be going better ahead of his penultimate race start.
“Looking at the speed in the race on the entries he won’t be leading,’’ Ryan said.
“It’s a very good race and it should be a quick tempo, there’ll be no sitting up and going easy in this race.
“It’s hard to say after you win a Group 1 you can improve off it but I honestly believe he has improved on the Canterbury Stakes.’’
A year ago Trapeze Artist became the first three-year-old to claim the TJ Smith-All Aged Stakes double.
Owner Bert Vieira delayed his retirement last year to have a shot at The Everest and was brave in defeat as Redzel turned the tables on him from their clash in the TJ.
He’ll be retiring to Widden Stud following the All Aged Stakes on April 20 and Ryan said he’ll be heading to stud with an enviable record.
“He’s done a super job, winning three Group 1s as a three-year-old colt,’’ he said.
“I reckon it’ll be a while before a three-year-old wins the Golden Rose, TJ and the All Aged again.
“The only blemish on his record is he’s an average horse first-up. You can’t seem to get the best out of him first-up no matter what you do.’’
That was evident in Trapeze Artist's battling fourth behind Alizee in the Expressway Stakes first-up since The Everest and Ryan decided to change things up and it proved a masterstroke.
Prior to the Canterbury Stakes, where he posted a new track record for the 1300m, Trapeze Artist had two solid trials wearing blinkers and the result was there to see.
The blinkers came off for Trapeze Artist’s pre-TJ Smith trial last Friday but it’s a sign of the form he's in that he could still win the hitout without the shades.
“He trialled very well, I’m really happy with how the horse is going,’’ Ryan said.
Trapeze Artist wins the Canterbury Stakes at Randwick on March 9
“Even though he’s won four Group 1s I think he’s still underestimated because he’s not winning all the time.’’
Trapeze Artist shared $4.50 TAB favouritism for the TJ with Osborne Bulls on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday’s barrier draw where Ryan said he’d like the horse to draw outside barrier three.
Another Snitzel colt in Cardiff will take his place for Ryan in the Group 3 Widden Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) on Saturday.
The youngster was unplaced in his first three starts but turned the corner with a tough on-pace win at Warwick Farm on March 13.
Ryan said he’d have liked to give Cardiff an extra trial between runs but was balloted out of a trial last week.
“He’s settled well and he’s working well now, he seems relaxed in his attitude around the place,’’ he said.