By Ray Hickson
Trainer Adam Duggan isn’t quite comfortable with the ‘boom sprinter’ tag carried by Sir Elton but he’s quietly confident the gelding can live up to it at Randwick on Saturday.
It’s fair to say the pressure’s off Duggan and Sir Elton to a degree after he lost his unbeaten record at start four back in July and talk of a sale to Hong Kong quietened.
While the shape of the Mark Alati Bookmakers Handicap (1100m) changed when it was combined with a deleted three-year-old race, so he'll meet another exciting sprinter in Pandemic, Duggan said Sir Elton is ready to go and he’s ready to find out how good he is.
“I would prefer to be flying a bit under the radar but I know it’s hard to do with a horse like him,’’ Duggan said.
“It’s part of the game and it’s something I’ve got to get used to. It’s just something I haven’t had to deal with that much before.
“I think he looks like he’s taken that necessary improvement into his four-year-old year. Hopefully we get the answers after his race on Saturday and not questions.’’
Sir Elton burst onto the scene in late May last year with a debut win at Gosford then easily accounted for Lashes at Wyong before graduating to city company with a heavy track win at Randwick.
The unbeaten run was curtailed at the hands of subsequent Group winner Haut Brion Her at his first attempt at 1200m, and while Duggan lost no faith in the horse’s potential it calmed things down a bit.
“Lets just say he won that last race, I think that’s when there would be more pressure,’’ he said.
“Even though I know he’s mine to keep and he’s not going anywhere I think it took that bit of pressure off.
“He came back in and as soon as he started to do some work it was like he picked up where he left off. He’s come back and bang we’ve got a nice horse there straight away.’’
Sir Elton was $3.30 second favourite with TAB on Wednesday and what Duggan said will present at Randwick is a more furnished racehorse and one that’s in the sort of shape he’ll have no excuses.
He drew barrier four which will allow Josh Parr the option to lead or give him a trail.
“In his second trial I said to Josh if one or two want to go let them go and settle off,’’ he said.
“I think he chases horses really well, he has a good turn of foot doing that but he’s so quick early he gets himself into that position leading or outside the lead easily.
“He’s definitely put on a bit of weight and a bit more muscle, he’s lengthened out a bit and I think we’ve got him a bit fitter first-up which is where he needs to be.
“When you’re going into maiden races you don’t have to have them screwed down as much. He just looks that bit fitter to me and that’s how you need to be going into a Saturday race.’’
Sir Elton wins a trial at Wyong on January 13
It will be some eight months after they were originally supposed to pair up that Parr finally has his first race ride on the gelding.
Duggan and Sir Elton were on their way to Kembla Grange back on May 14 for what was to be the horse’s debut but didn’t make it to the track due to an accident on the freeway.
Parr has done just about all the work on the four-year-old leading into Randwick, aside from one of his two trials, and knows the horse inside out.
“I think it was a bit of a blessing missing that race, just how the races rolled for me,’’ he said.
“It was always the plan for Josh to get back on him. He only lives 15 minutes away and having him be able to come and gallop him is great.
“He’s had four rides on him in the last two weeks, I wanted to make sure he gets a good feel for him.’’
Plans for Sir Elton beyond Saturday will be sured up depending on the result and performance but Duggan said he does have a couple of options in the back of his mind.