By Ray Hickson
A return to his best form will see talented four-year-old Just Thinkin’ make a compelling case to trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott that he should join their growing Golden Eagle troop.
As it stands Tulloch Lodge has confirmed Dawn Passage and Epsom placegetter Riodini for the $7.5m Iron Jack Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 31 with Just Thinkin’ and Group 1 winner Shout The Bar also in the queue.
Waterhouse and Bott didn’t have a runner in the inaugural Golden Eagle but it has been a target race in 2020.
Just Thinkin’ produced a “head scratching performance” in the Hill Stakes at 2000m two weeks ago, finishing second last behind Kolding, but Bott said the Spring Mile (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday will paint a clearer picture of where the gelding is at.
“I don’t know if it was a combination of being thrown in the deep end under the weight-for-age conditions and the class probably just finding him out,’’ Bott said.
“Or whether he’s a genuine 2000m horse just yet. He gave is the indication he was looking for it so we wanted to test him.
“It might be those factors combined led to a below par performance or he just didn’t race up to his best.”
The gelding is a $51 chance in the TAB’s all-in Golden Eagle market and on Thursday was $6.50 in his Randwick assignment.
Prior to his last run Just Thinkin' had won second-up at Randwick and finished second in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap, he drops 2.5kg out of the Hill Stakes and with the blinkers on Bott said he has every chance to regain his confidence.
“Back to the mile, blinkers on, we’re trying to freshen him up a bit and try to get him back racing to his best,’’ he said.
“If he’s sharp enough over a mile we’d like to see him progress to the Golden Eagle.”
There’s still some thinking to do about where Shout The Bar stand after three unplaced runs since a spell and Bott is leaning towards taking the once in a lifetime option with the four-year-old mare.
She ran 11th in the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600m) and if she heads to the Golden Eagle she’ll likely appear in blinkers.
“It’s a chance to get back to her own age group. We’ll have a think about it,’’ he said.
“The plan was to go to Melbourne for a race like the Empire Rose or Matriarch but with the current situation and the prizemoney on offer she can target some of those races next year.
“She can’t target this race next year. She already has a Group 1 so her value is established to an extent, it could be a suitable race for her.”
Just Thinkin' runs second at Newcastle on September 18
Shout The Bar, the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes winner last season, is a $51 chance in the Eagle while Dawn Passage is a $15 chance on the back of his first-up third in the Silver Eagle (1300m).
Bott said he couldn’t be happier with Dawn Passage and the horse has come through the run in top shape.
“From the draw we had to ride him a bit further back and it meant he got into a spot where he had to make plenty of ground,’’ he said.
“I liked the way he attacked the line and finished off, he showed us he’s on track.
“He was open to improvement going into that race so if we see that improvement he think he has it puts him right in contention.”