By Ray Hickson
Irish trainer Ken Condon isn’t getting ahead of himself with thoughts of upsetting Winx at Royal Randwick on Saturday but he’s confident everything has been done for Success Days to produce his best.
Condon is in awe of what Winx has been able to achieve as she aims for 25 straight wins and her 18th at Group 1 level in the $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) this weekend.
“She’s a phenomenon, she’s a superstar, she’s so well regarded everywhere,’’ he said.
“All horse lovers and racing aficionados appreciate the record she has put together and the job that Chris Waller and his team have done with her. It’s great to see her rising seven and keeping that unbeaten run going and she looks to me to be as good as ever.
“Realistically, on form lines, he couldn’t match Winx but there's such great prizemoney on offer and if he runs his best race he’s very capable of running in the first four.’’
Condon had his first look at Success Days for over a month when he arrived at Canterbury on Monday morning and was rapt with what he saw.
The grey has acclimatised and to Condon’s eye appears to be loving having some sunshine on his back.
“He’s got a good skin on him and most importantly his weight is good, that’s a real indicator,’’ he said.
“It’s a big challenge to come all this way, we’re standing in blazing sunshine but for Success Days, and me selfishly, we’d love to see a bit of rain closer to Saturday.’’
As Condon alluded, taking on Winx in her back yard is no small task but there's $755,000 for second, $395,000 for third and even $180,000 to finish fourth.
And he’s doing something that connections of none of the world’s top ranked horses have yet considered – getting on that plane to Australia to race the best horse on the planet.
Success Days has contested seven Group 1 events in his 19 starts with his best effort being a third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (2112m) at The Curragh in 2016.
He has taken on some serious Group 1 races, though, including Golden Horn’s Epsom Derby and the past two Irish Champion Stakes won by Almanzor and Cracksman.
The entire, rated a $26 chance with TAB, has a preference for soft ground but he did give Johannes Vermeer plenty to chase on a good track back in July last year when beaten half a length by the subsequent Melbourne Cup runner-up.
— The Championships (@ChampionshipsRR) April 8, 2018
“He’s been a consistent solid performer at home in Ireland and England for the last three seasons,’’ Condon said.
“He’s had five or six runs a year in good company, he’s lost some fights and won some fights.
“He’s fallen a little short when he stepped into Grade 1 company. He invariably likes to front run and when conditions are in his favour on a good day he’s a tough horse to pass.
“Every race is a race on its own merits and you never know on the day. If you’re not in you can’t win, we’re delighted to be here and are looking forward to it.’’
Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira has taken the ride on Success Days in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes and will also ride the other international, Japanese stayer Prestwick, in the $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m).
Both greys will have a serious gallop on Tuesday morning, Condon said Success Days will work over 1400m with a solid final 600m.
Meanwhile, Danon Liberty left the Canterbury quarantine centre on Sunday to join Darren Weir horses housed at Newcastle during the Sydney Carnival.