By Ray Hickson
Trainer Joe Pride has been enthusiastic about the Golden Eagle concept since it was announced earlier this year and will be even more so if Fasika stamps herself as a live chance in the $500,000 Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Perhaps there’s a bit of self-interest in championing the $7.5 million Golden Eagle for four-year-olds, run over 1500m at Rosehill on November 2, but Pride sees it as a race he’s more likely to be a player in, than some traditional features, as it evolves.
“I just see it, a bit like I saw the Everest although I haven’t had a runner in it yet, as a race that is put on for my kind of horses,’’ Pride said.
“I look at the two-year-old feature races and I rarely have a runner, I’ve had one runner in a Slipper, but both the Everest and Golden Eagle I look at as races that I will seriously target with my top level horses.’’
In the space of about 20 minutes on Saturday the Warwick Farm trainer could find himself with a runner in both the Golden Eagle and next week’s $14m TAB Everest.
Fasika, $5.00 second Silver Eagle favourite, runs at Randwick where the first three across the line will be guaranteed a start in the Golden Eagle then in the final race at Caulfield his tough sprinter Ball Of Muscle chases the final slot in the TAB Everest in a ‘win and you’re in’ Schillaci Stakes.
Pride won’t accept anything other than a top three finish – or ‘looking devilishly unlucky’ in missing a place – to run Fasika in the Golden Eagle because he doesn’t want to be there to make up the numbers.
“I think they have the concept right, it’s the first year and there is time to tinker with things but to me I think the first three will deserve to take their place,’’ he said.
“All luck being even if she doesn’t run top three she won’t be in the Eagle.’’
It’s been four weeks since Fasika resumed with a close second to Mizzy in the Group 2 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill.
Pride saw that run as proof she’s a worthy Golden Eagle runner so has kept her on the fresh side and elected to barrier trial earlier this week.
“She came through it in terrific order, it was a really good trial,’’ he said.
“You can fool yourself sometimes giving them really soft trials, you don’t really know what’s under the bonnet, but I love the way she came off the track.
“Rachel (King) said she turned around after the trial and gave a squeal and a kick out and you figure that’s a good thing.’’
Of course Mizzy, her conqueror in the Sheraco, will again be standing in Fasika’s way but Pride is confident his mare can turn the tables on her.
“I believe we should have won first-up, she was really unlucky,’’ he said.
Fasika runs second at Rosehill on September 14
“The bias on the day was inside fence on pace and we sat three deep the entire.
“She took that horse on first-up, Mizzy had the benefit of a run and this time we meet her a bit fitter and probably on a wet track which is advantage us.’’
As for Ball Of Muscle, the nine-year-old is chasing back-to-back wins in the Schillaci and Pride isn’t concerned about coming off a failure in the Moir at Moonee Valley.
He says the race has opened up for the gelding with Nature Strip not lining up, after gaining his own Everest slot, and it’s really up to the horse to win on Saturday before the TAB Everest slot becomes an option.
“The Everest being a week away is the last thing on my mind, it’s all about the Schillaci and we’ll see what happens after that,’’ Pride said.