By Ray Hickson
Underdog status suits trainer Gabrielle Englebrecht just fine as she heads to Canterbury on Wednesday quietly confident Mileage can spring a minor upset.
The four-year-old has flown under the radar again in the Autumn Carnival On Sale Handicap (1200m) despite a promising first-up effort at Randwick on Boxing Day in a race that will likely provide the winner.
Mileage ran third behind Miss Celebration and is rated a $13 chance with TAB despite finishing just half a length astern of Sophiella who is pre-post favourite at $4.60.
“Mileage’s run was every bit as good as Sophiella,’’ Englebrecht said.
“We were antagonised by it through the race and we were held up for a run. I thought we were just a bit unlucky.
“I think she is probably over the odds a bit too. She’s only very lightly raced, she’s only learning everything and she’s a more seasoned and stronger horse now.
“I think she has gone up a notch but I always expected her to as well.’’
Mileage runs third first-up at Randwick on December 26
Englebrecht describes Mileage, a winner of two from nine, as a “big girl’’ so expects there’s plenty of improvement out of that first-up run.
“Her trials and work going into that race were very good, certainly enough to warrant taking her there,’’ she said.
“When you are a small stable you don’t want to take them to a city race unless you are confident they will hold their own.’’
Of the three horses Englebrecht is taking to Canterbury, the lightly raced Arrogant Lass is one she believes has the most upside.
The filly has admittedly been set a task in the TAB Rewards Handicap (1250m), a maiden with a bit of depth, but she said a first-up fourth at Gosford was a positive sign.
Arrogant Lass was the only horse to break 11 seconds for her last 200m (10.99) as she ran on from last behind Exceltic in the 1100m race (Punters Intelligence).
“She’s a progressive horse that will probably get over a bit further when she becomes more experienced,’’ Englebrecht said.
“She’s always shown ability, always been pleased with what I’ve seen from her in trackwork and her trials.
“It’s a long term path for her and we can assess where she is at and how she measures up.’’
The trainer’s third runner is Dynamic Bid who tackles the Bowermans Office Furniture Handicap (1100m) as an $11 chance with three provincial placings on end to his name.
“He’s a great little horse, he tries hard and has a good crack at them,’’ she said.
“Midweek is probably as high as we will ever take him. This race looks to suit him in terms of where he’s drawn and the smaller field.’’