By Ray Hickson
Michael Freedman is taking a big picture approach to unbeaten colt Stay Inside’s final Golden Slipper lead up in the Group 2 $300,000 UNSW Todman Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Obviously Freedman would like the two-year-old’s unbeaten record to remain intact but, after the barrier draw handed the advantage to Profiteer and Remarque, in reality there is a chance he could lose it.
The Todman has often been regarded, particularly by Peter Snowden in recent years, as a Golden Slipper semi-final and while a new Slipper favourite will be crowned after the race the result doesn’t mean the $3.5m classic is over.
“It would be a really nice race to be able to win on the way through but it’s not the grand final,’’ Freedman said.
“The barrier isn’t ideal with the other two favourites drawn one and two, being out in seven of eight does make it a little more awkward even though it’s a small field.
“The grand final is in two weeks time. You’d like to see your horse run well to give you the confidence that in two weeks you’re not wasting your time. There’s been plenty of Slipper winners come out as placegetters and beaten favourites in Todmans.”
Stay Inside, $3.20 with TAB in the Todman and $4.50 equal Slipper favourite with Profiteer, made jockey James McDonald shake his head passing the line as he raced away to a four length win in the Pierro Plate (1100m) three weeks ago.
After settling third and fourth in the run, Stay Inside unleashed a race best 400m-200m of 10.96 and last 200m of 12 seconds (Punter’s Intelligence).
Freedman said it’s encouraging Sydney’s premier jockey wanted to stay with his colt and hopes he can weave a bit of magic to overcome any potential adversity.
“When it is on a soft track you wonder whether the others didn’t handle it quite as well but I think he showed a nice turn of foot at his first start on a good 4 as well,’’ he said.
“It gives you confidence when those top riders, who have been on the back of plenty of good horses, give you a positive report.
“They are the best riders for a reason, you assume they do their homework on how a race might pan out and go in with a bit of a game plan. You’ve ultimately got to leave it up to them because once the gates open the complexion can change.
“He’s a very tractable colt, he has a lovely demeanour about him and it’s nice going into any race with a horse you can ride where you need to depending on how the race is run.”
McDonald rode Stay Inside in his trackwork gallop on Tuesday and reported to Freedman he was pleased with the colt’s work.
The Richard and Michael Freedman stable is on a high after Forbidden Love’s first Group 1 win for the partnership in last Saturday’s Surround Stakes and hopes are high that Prime Star can continue the trend in the Group 1 $1m Mostyn Copper Randwick Guineas (1600m).
The unassuming gelding, $15 with TAB, was narrowly beaten in the Inglis Sprint first-up then ran a sound third to Aegon and North Pacific in the Hobartville Stakes (1400m) two weeks ago.
Jean Van Overmeire has the Group 1 opportunity but, again, his task has been made tougher by drawing 11 in the 13 horse field.
Stay Inside wins at Randwick on February 13
“He’s such a great little horse, he’s been amazing for us, to be a Millennium winner then come back and match it with the better three-year-olds around,’’ Freedman said.
“The poor little fellow just can’t draw a barrier. Going to the mile at Randwick it would be nice if he can be ridden where he can be put to sleep with some cover and give him every chance to run out a strong mile.
“From where he’s drawn we’ll have to put a bit of thought into how we go about it. At his best he’s not far away from any of those good three-year-olds, it gets down to tactics and luck in running.”
Michael Freedman on On The Lead (Fireball): “The start of his races has been frustrating at the moment, because he tends to be a bit tardy out of the gates he gets himself back in a spot with 10 lengths to make up every run which is difficult to do at any level. We’ve had him back at the gates a couple of times since his last run just to try and get him to step away with them. If he can and can put himself two or three lengths closer in the run he’s up to that level.”
On Glistening (Reisling Stakes): “I was rapt with her first-up run off the back of one trial, she ran really well at Canberra in a race I think rated quite well. They ran good time and the last 50m-100m of her race was her best and she has improved off it.”