By Ray Hickson
Trainer Kris Lees was quite frankly disappointed with The Bopper’s unplaced effort first-up but has seen enough from the talented three-year-old to say he can turn it around at Randwick on Saturday.
The Bopper ran well below expectation when he laboured into fourth placing behind Tailleur three weeks ago and Lees is under no illusions about the challenge that faces him in the $1m Inglis Sprint (1200m) against the likes of dual Group 1 winner Ole Kirk.
Punter’s Intelligence sectional data showed The Bopper ran a 10.47 from the 1000m-800m to attack for the lead but he could only manage a 34.57 last 600m, the second slowest of the race.
While that shows there were some reasons for the gelding’s fading effort Lees said he could accept a first-up defeat but holding on for a place would have pleased him more.
“He certainly needed the run the way he went,’’ Lees said.
“He took good improvement out of the run, he only had one soft trial going into it.
“He had to work a bit in the early stages but I would have liked to see a bit more from him late.
“He’s had three decent gallops and has made the right improvement, his last one (on Tuesday morning) was his best one.”
The Bopper, winner of the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes on a soft track at Randwick in October, was on the third line of TAB betting at $6 on Wednesday behind Ole Kirk ($2.40).
Lees said he’d like to see the track race in the soft range and that would give The Bopper his best chance to cause an upset having drawn ideally.
“It allows him to do no work in the first 400m-500m so it’s a pretty good draw for him,’’ he said.
“I think he is adaptable, he controlled the race when he won the stakes race at Randwick and he has come from off the speed to.
“I expect Malkovich will have too much speed for him so he is going to get the right type of run. It’s a good quality field so there should be pressure in the race.”
Capitalist filly Mystic Gem represents Lees is the $2m Inglis Millennium (1100m) on the back of a debut win at Doomben two weeks ago where she earned her stripes to chase the big prize.
Lees said drawing alongside hot favourite Profiteer is a bonus for Mystic Gem, $23 with TAB, and that gives her a chance to figure in the finish.
“She’s certainly on the up so it wouldn’t surprise me to see her run well,’’ he said.
“She’s a professional little filly, it’s questionable whether she has the class of some of the others. It was a good tradesmanlike win, she has a soft draw and she gives the indication she will be comfortable in the ground.”
The Bopper runs fourth at Rosehill on January 16
Among his other Randwick runners, Lees said Never Talk will take her place in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) if the track stays wet.
The filly was unlucky when running fifth behind Lillemor at Rosehill on January 16, where she ran the race’s fastest last 200m (10.96) after being slowly away and held up for a run.
“That’s her chance for black type, taking on the better credentialed horses on rain affected ground,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Lees said star import Mugatoo is set to resume in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday week after his trial at Wyong on Thursday.