By Ray Hickson
Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse has pinpointed the emerging Mister Songman as the horse that could hand her an eighth Epsom Handicap later this spring.
Mister Songman faces some challenges in his return in the Winter Racing Handicap (1100m) on Randwick’s Kensington track – a trip short of his best, a wide barrier and an eight month break due to having bone chips removed from both front fetlocks.
Waterhouse concedes the five-year-old will really excel when he steps up towards a mile but is adamant he has the class to put himself in the finish first-up.
“He’s better suited at a mile, this is a little bit not quite his distance but he will run very well,’’ she said.
“He’s exactly like the old fashioned Epsom horses I’ve had before.
“I think he will be terribly competitive. He is lightly raced and he is a horse on the make, on the improve.’’
Fat Al (2012) is Waterhouse's last Epsom winner and she's won the feature mile with Rock Kingdom (2009), Theseo (2008), Desert War (2004-05), Excellerator (2002) and Iron Horse (1997).
When we last saw Mister Songman, kept very safe by TAB at $3 for his return, he was a runaway seven length winner over 1400m at Randwick in December.
He had his first run for Waterhouse and co-trainer Adrian Bott at the start of that month and was narrowly beaten by Kapajack over 1100m, he stayed at that trip second-up and finished a close third to Deprive.
It’s stark contrast to the horse Waterhouse said he was when he arrived on the mainland.
“He was in Melbourne before Sydney and he couldn’t strike a match, he couldn’t go at all,’’ she said.
“You would have thought he would have handled it easily being a Tassie horse. Since we bought him to Sydney he hasn’t looked back.
“He’s a beautiful horse, very talented.’’
Waterhouse is also excited about the carnival ahead with the untapped stayer Wolfe and has slightly different expectations about his first-up assignment in the Premier’s Cup Prelude (1800m).
The Japanese bred stayer has been beaten only once in five starts, that was at 1400m first-up back on Anzac Day so the extra 400m will be right up his alley this time around.
“The 1800m is the right distance for him, he’s a very special horse,’’ she said.
Wolfe is the $2.70 favourite with TAB and Waterhouse said his two trials have been pleasing.
Like a lot of imports, she said the five-year-old is a quirky fellow but what he does on race day can’t be questioned.
“He’s an interesting character, he’s very laid back,’’ she said.
“He’ll stop and have a pick and you could have a cup of tea. I think his preparation has been great, I think he is going absolutely super.
Mister Songman wins a trial at Gosford on August 5
“All these first-up horses should be followed because they are back getting ready for the carnival and are training well.’’
Whether Wolfe is set for the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m) or sent to Melbourne will require a debate between the training partners who currently have different views on the spring target.
Waterhouse warned to expect a lift from Stampede ($11), despite the 63kg, in the Premier’s Cup Prelude after two runs back from a spell.
“He doesn’t like to be covered up, he likes to be given some room to move and breathe and he didn’t have that in his last race,’’ she said.
“I think you’ll see a vastly improved Stampede.’’
On the stable’s other runners at Randwick, Waterhouse said Wimlah (race 2) has come through her close second last week in good order and is well placed back in fillies and mares company; she expects Fabrizio (race 7) to need a run or two but says he’s looking well in his work; and Falcon Island (race 8) is a consistent horse who should run a competitive race first-up.