By Ray Hickson
Trainer Lee Curtis is predicting a vastly improved showing from Group 1 winning mare Lasqueti Spirit at Randwick on Saturday but doubts history can repeat from the last time she fronted up against Winx.
Back in February, Lasqueti Spirit finished runner-up in the Chipping Norton Stakes over the Randwick mile with only the champion getting the better of her.
“I don’t have any aspirations of running second again but I’m happy with how she is going,’’ Curtis said.
“Her first up run in that prep was pretty ordinary too and when she ran second to Winx they did run 1:40 on a heavy track so that enabled her to be a bit more competitive.’’
Winx obviously looms large over the Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) as she’s widely expected to stretch her winning run to 19.
Lasqueti Spirit failed to beat a horse home when she resumed in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury on August 24 but Curtis said given she wasn’t flying at home it was actually a pass mark.
Lasqueti Spirit running second to Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes - February 25
What makes him bullish about the four-year-old rebounding from that sort of defeat is the fact she’s done it before (she was a $151 chance in the Chipping Norton) and he’s seen evidence that the run has switched her on.
“I didn’t think she was going that well at the time, I thought her first trial was pretty ordinary,’’ he said.
“We were happy with her to just go around but I don’t think her run was too bad.
“She was only beaten eight lengths and they came home quickly. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad by the same token.
“She hasn’t got a great first-up record, it’s pretty poor actually, but from that run the work she has done has been really switched on and she’s the Lasqueti Spirit of old so we go in a lot happier.’’
Curtis is aiming at the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m) on September 30 with last spring’s Oaks winner and will progress to the Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) in two weeks.
He also indicated Lasqueti Spirit’s days of going out with 10 length leads in her races are numbered – he still wants her ridden forward but not to the extent we saw in the Oaks last spring and Sydney Cup.
“It was a conscious decision to do it and it worked for us brilliantly but we will be a lot more controlled this time,’’ Curtis said.
“I’m just going to tell Jay (Ford) to ride her pretty much as he has done, similar to what he did (in the Chipping Norton) and punch up and try to have her handy.
“We feel that she is very much on track now and her work on Tuesday showed me that.’’