By Ray Hickson
Gai Waterhouse’s chances of a record eighth The Star Doncaster Mile will be boosted if one of her trio – Dawn Passage, Yao Dash and Just Thinkin’ – can win their way into next Saturday’s $3m feature via Rosehill on Saturday.
Co-trainer Adrian Bott confirmed dual Group 1 winning mare Shout The Bar is in line to take her place in the race and says all three of the stable’s runners in the Group 3 $160,000 ACY Securities Doncaster Prelude (1500m) have the ability to earn a ticket.
Of the trio Bott said it’s the in-form Yao Dash who has the best set up, it’s hard to judge Just Thinkin’ on his one run back while he’s hoping a class drop and dry track and bring out the best in Dawn Passage.
Yao Dash is in career best form and drops 7kg on his last start Benchmark 88 win at Rosehill three weeks ago, from barrier two Bott said he has his chance.
“He’s got a nice Doncaster profile, if he’s able to win Saturday and sneak himself into the field with a nice light weight the back up will be ideal for him,’’ he said.
“He’s racing with a bit of confidence, he’s been racing consistently for us all campaign.
“He does have that touch of brilliance about him when things fall into place and when they do he can be very effective.”
The gelding was $4.80 with TAB on Friday ($51 in the Doncaster), with Dawn Passage at $18 ($51) and Just Thinkin' an outsider at $71 ($201).
Just Thinkin’ was a Listed winner over the Rosehill 1500m as a three-year-old and he won second-up at the trip last preparation so Bott says there’s a case for him to improve on a forgettable first-up effort.
He said there were excuses, though, for his eighth in the National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra a month ago where circumstances saw him race right out of his comfort zone.
“He just knuckled at the start at Canberra and it meant he was in an awkward position and raced wide,’’ Bott said.
“I’m very forgiving of it, he will need a bit of luck from where he’s drawn but he’s going to have to break cleaner and hopefully he can put himself right in the race.
“He wasn’t really properly tested so it’s hard to gauge how well he has come back.”
Dawn Passage appeared a likely Doncaster contender after his spring campaign which, though winless, saw him run game thirds in the Silver Eagle and Golden Eagle and go down in a photo in the $1m The Gong.
The four-year-old hasn’t been as competitive as Bott would have liked in his two runs since the spring at Group 1 weight-for-age in the Canterbury Stakes and last week’s George Ryder (1500m) where he finished near the tail.
“What we’ve seen previously and at home he was entitled to be much more competitive in both of those races so we’re disappointed on that front,’’ he said.
“He might be taking a bit more racing to get him fitter, he’s quite a big solid horse and carrying plenty of condition. He’s come through last week in good order and looks much better for it.
“With better conditions, a bit more fitness, we might be able to see him turn it around. On his day he’s capable of winning this sort of race.”
Dawn Passage has 52.5kg in the Star Doncaster while Yao Dash and Just Thinkin’ received 50kg when weights were released. Third placing is the best a Doncaster Prelude winner has achieved to date in the famous Randwick mile.
Waterhouse is equal with her father TJ Smith on seven Doncaster winners, and would be chasing her first in the partnership with Bott, while Chris Waller has trained six of the last 13 winners.
Yao Dash wins at Rosehill on March 13
Adrian Bott on the stable’s other Rosehill runners:
Converge (Schweppervescence): "I thought he was excellent in the Pago Pago, he covered a bit of ground. I loved the way he travelled into it and let down, he let down nicely. And I think he is an improver stepping out to the 1400m. He just peaked on the run late but the way he worked into it you thought he was going to be right in the finish.”
Tea Leaves (Schweppervescence): “He’s going to love every bit of the 1400m and is one who will excel once we get him out over a bit further as well. That win last start helped switch him on, he’s a big tough horse who is going the right way.”
Entente (Neville Selwood): “He’s done well since his last start and he was excellent down there at Albury. He’s an improving type, it looks a nice next step for him. He’s got the speed if need be, at Albury he was able to take a sit and be effective but we wouldn’t be afraid to get him bowling along now.”
Yaletown (Tulloch): “I think he’s a nice talented horse. We threw him in the deep end in the Phar Lap but I thought he ran very well. He had to do the hard work chasing the whole way over a distance probably short of what he’s looking for. He has an entry for the Derby and that’s where he will go if he is effective.”