By Ray Hickson
It’s been a while since trainer Kerry Parker had a genuine Doncaster contender but there’s no doubt he will if Think It Over can back up his upset first-up win in Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Hyland Race Colours Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
In 2010 Parker saddled up Brilliant Light to run third in the feature Randwick mile and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Think It Over profiles in a similar fashion – a versatile on pacer who keeps improving.
As it happens Brilliant Light won the Ajax Stakes in that year and Parker feels there’s a chance history could repeat.
“It’s definitely on the radar, you don’t get many chances at a Doncaster,’’ he said.
“I was unlucky one year with Brilliant Light running third in it, he was off the track the whole way and ran a terrific third behind Rangirangdoo.
“This fellow is a genuine, honest, horse. That’s where he fits in.”
Think It Over incurred a 0.5kg penalty for The Star Doncaster, taking his weight to 52kg, when he won the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) under Glen Boss first-up at Randwick two weeks ago.
It came as something of a surprise to punters, starting $51, and while it is easy for Parker to say after the fact he thought he was a chance the gelding has always flown under the radar.
He’s a $34 chance with TAB in the Doncaster and on Wednesday was $14 in the Ajax Stakes.
“He’s always raced really well fresh, I was confident he’d run first four and just thought he opened a ridiculous price,’’ he said.
“It just depended on how the race was run, I thought they might go really slow early to take the favourite (Criaderas) out knowing it would be back last.
“I thought that wouldn’t suit me but as it turned out they rolled at a lovely tempo the whole race and it worked out beautifully.”
Parker concedes the Ajax is going to be a tougher assignment than the Liverpool City Cup where he’ll again meet Criaderas with an extra 1kg on his back for the win.
On his side is the fact he’s still improving, he’s come a long way since he debuted for Parker in a Class 2 at Hawkesbury 18 months ago but he clearly went up a notch in the spring with a win in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) and a third in the $1m The Gong (1600m) on his home track.
“He just had to learn. He was very raw in his first prep,’’ he said.
“It took him a fair while to grow up, which is a little common for the breed. What he was doing early was just on raw ability, he was always a handful at home, but he’s a lot happier horse to deal with.
“Last prep it worked out perfectly and every run Bossy would come back and say that was better.
“He’s sneaking up there a bit more in the weights going up a kilo but you can live with that.
Think It Over wins at Randwick on February 27
“It’s always good to draw a gate, he puts himself handy. If they are going quick he can come back off the pace and find the line.”
Meanwhile, Parker has two horses still in contention to run in Saturday week’s Polytrack Provincial Championships Qualifier (1400m) on his home track at Kembla Grange via Tampering and Don Luigi.
The latter may have to win at Kembla on Friday to force his way into the Qualifier while Parker is sweating on Tampering having a high enough benchmark to get a second shot after a sound first-up performance behind Pandano in the opening heat at Newcastle.
“Their benchmarks are a little low so I’m hoping they can sneak in,’’ he said.
“Tampering ran at Newcastle but they just crawled and sprinted which didn’t suit him. But he picked himself up to find the line quite nicely and finish sixth.”