By Ray Hickson
Jockey Nash Rawiller is looking forward to seeing what’s under the bonnet of TAB Everest runner In Her Time when he’s allowed to let her go after a second easy trial at Newcastle on Monday.
And it’s a similar report from Mark Zahra after he partnered Everest favourite Santa Ana Lane in his first appearance down at Cranbourne.
In Her Time led up an all Kris Lees field over the 900m in her second trial of her Everest preparation, where she’ll run in the Inglis slot, and Rawiller said he had a “lap full of horse’’ going across the line behind Graff.
“It’s the third time I’ve ridden her, she’s making steady improvement,’’ he said.
“She’s still a month away from running so she’s going terrific and going about her business nicely.’’
That first-up run is scheduled to be in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick on September 21, the same race pencilled in for Santa Ana Lane’s only start prior to the Everest.
The seven-year-old mare hasn’t raced since finishing sixth behind Sunlight, another Everest runner, in the Newmarket Handicap in March and Lees has been building her up slowly.
While Rawiller is yet to ride the mare in a race he suspects she has lost none of her quality.
“You can certainly feel it’s there, I haven’t really asked for it,’’ he said.
“She has been having a steady preparation to be peaking at the right time. I’ve just let her do her thing without putting any pressure on her.’’
Graff, who ran fifth in last year's Everest, is likely to resume in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) on September 7 and is one of several sprinters out to catch slot holder James Harron's eye in the coming weeks.
Mark Zahra said he is as happy as he could be with Santa Ana Lane at this stage of his Everest preparation.
The $5 TAB favourite, who is running in TAB’s slot, ran fourth in an 800m trial on a heavy 10 track so Zahra was wary to ensure the Anthony Freedman-trained gelding worked through the ground comfortably.
“He was nice and fresh, bubbly, going to the gates and as usual a little bouncy in the barriers,’’ Zahra said in a post-trial interview.
“I had him where he wanted to travel, he travelled nicely underneath me, and once we were well into the straight got him out in the clear and with something in hand got to the line nicely.’’
It’s expected Santa Ana Lane will trial again, either in Sydney or Victoria, prior to The Shorts.
Graff downs In Her Time in a Newcastle trial on August 19
Meanwhile, Rawiller gave a glowing review of the trials of talented sprinter Jonker and Brisbane Cup winner Sixties Groove after their respective wins at Newcastle.
Jonker was runner-up to Classique Legend in the Arrowfield Sprint during The Championships while Sixties Groove is one of the early favourites for the Group 1 The Metropolitan.
“Jonker seems to have come back very well. He gives the impression he is up to better class races,’’ he said.
“Sixties Groove, although they didn’t go hard, he travelled comfortably and what I did like about him was his turn of foot there late.’’