By Ray Hickson
Evergreen stayer Destiny’s Kiss has always punched above his weight but a Group 1 win at Randwick on Saturday would still be a pleasant surprise to trainer Joe Pride.
The nine-year-old, weighing in at a diminutive 420kg, has only had two starts at the top level – an 18th in the 2015 Doncaster and seventh in the 2016 Sydney Cup.
While he can’t be bullish about winning the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m), Pride has learned in the four years he’s been training Destiny’s Kiss not to underestimate him.
“Fingers crossed but you shouldn’t be winning Group 1s having your 73rd start,’’ he said.
“He has totally exceeded expectations.
“When he walked in the door I remember thinking 'how the hell did Robert Smerdon win five races with this thing’. He was a little pony.’’
Pride has managed to win 11 races, including six at Listed level, with Destiny’s Kiss, the latest his Wyong Cup success on September 1.
He’s not being too hard on the gelding’s last start fifth in the Newcastle Cup but admits a bit of overnight rain would boost his chances.
“It was a good run, they went slow and took off and Hughie (Bowman) said he got shuffled back in an awkward spot and wasn’t able to make an impression on them,’’ Pride said.
“If it was a wet track I’d be a little bit confident. Dry doesn’t stop him, it probably means they could sprint home a bit quick for him.’’
One thing Destiny’s Kiss, rated a $23 chance with TAB, does have in his favour is the 55kg, the lightest weight he’s been asked to carry since he ran third in the Gosford Cup in January behind Red Excitement and Sense Of Occasion.
Pride said sprinter Ball Of Muscle has improved since running second for the third straight year in The Shorts first-up.
The Punter’s Intel data showed Ball of Muscle matched it with Redzel for most of the 1100m Shorts but ran the slowest last 200m of 11.66 suggesting he blew out late and will benefit from the hit out.
But Pride concedes he’ll need to have come on when he tackles a host of Everest contenders in the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m), a race he has won twice with Neeson in 2011 and Ball Of Muscle's half-brother Terravista (2015).
“I couldn’t see any reason why he won’t go better,’’ he said.
“But he’s going to need to because Chautauqua will improve, English will improve. His opposition is on the up as well.’’