By Ray Hickson
He might be biased but trainer Matthew Dunn says he wouldn't hesitate to pick his in-form sprinter Snitz, chasing his fifth straight win at Randwick on Saturday, as a leading contender for The Kosciuszko later this year.
And he’s being set on a path to securing a second shot at the $1.3m feature on the Everest undercard via the Listed $150,000 Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) and next month’s Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton.
Snitz, last start winner of the Takeover Target Stakes at Randwick four weeks ago, is the second favourite with TAB at $6 in all-in Kosciuszko betting while stablemate and Country Championships winner Gracie Belle ($15) back in work to target a berth.
Dunn said that duo would be his main contenders for the publicly selected race.
“Snitz will come home and go to the Ramornie and then we’ll start to try and line him up for the Kosciuszko,’’ Dunn said.
“If that race was on in a month’s time he’d be the one I’d pick, him and Victorem. He was good at the end of last prep and we stopped him before we needed to and I think it has paid off.
“Gracie Belle is back in work and she will try and line up for the Kosciuszko. I know she won the Country Championships but she is probably more a 1200m horse off a quick tempo.”
While the form guide says Snitz has a failure in the 2018 Kosciuszko on a heavy track Dunn believes the five-year-old is a different horse now and his winning streak is proof.
“We’ve always had him down as being better on top of the ground but he hasn’t had that much experience on it,’’ he said.
“I think he will get through it okay, he’s a bit older now and a lot tougher than he’s ever been. I think that is why he is racing so well, he copes with his work and toughs it out better than he has in his life.”
The gelding is $8.50 with TAB and Dunn says he expects jockey Tim Clark will roll forward as usual and put him in the first couple in running as he did in the Takeover Target where he chased a hot speed and held on.
“It takes him three hops to get his rhythm and go, he doesn’t just ping the lids and take off,’’ he said.
“In some ways that’s a good thing because we can assess the speed and what’s going to happen around him and jockeys can make their decision.’’
The Murwillumbah based trainer also has Care To Think, who was selected for the inaugural Kosciuszko but had to be withdrawn a couple of days before the race, on the comeback trail in the Bob Charley.
Dunn said he’ll keep an eye on the track condition before committing to a start – if he does line up he expects the six-year-year-old, who hasn’t won since January 2018, to need the run.
“When he had his airway surgery he had constant infections from it and was on antibiotics all the time,’’ he said.
“He had six months in a big paddock in the Hunter Valley with a bunch of broodmares and he’s come back really well. His trials have been really strong so he’s in the right frame of mind.”
Snitz wins at Randwick on May 9
Matthew Dunn’s comments on his other Randwick runners:
Divine Eleven (race 2, $9.50): “I’m not sure how he measures up but it’s nice to have him against his own age. He’s screaming for the trip but I think he will measure up particularly now he’s up in distance. He’s going to get the right run, no weight on his back, and his runs have been really good.”
Keen Power (race 3, $3.40): “He had to leave and come back to Murwillumbah or he wouldn’t have been eligible so he’s done a bit of travelling between runs, but he’s copped it okay and I can’t think of any reason why he won’t cope. He just hasn’t done as much speed work between starts.
“He was good last start, I think if he jumps he just about beats them. I thought at the 200m he was gone then he jumped out of the ground again when he got space. In all his trials he always jumps and wants to really get it done but in every race start he’s done what he did last start, get midfield or worse and all of a sudden wants to hit the line. If he does jump and wants to use his speed he will get across, he’s really fast.’’
Snow Valley (race 6, $18): “Her run was good first-up, she took me a bit by surprise because she began so well. The plan was to ride her soft and let her rush home. She began well enough to get herself in trouble then was five and six deep but she stuck on well. She’s not far away from another win, she’s improved a lot on what she was doing going into that first-up run. She’s one of my better ones on the day.”