By Ray Hickson
There’s a quiet confidence building in jockey Jason Collett that Gytrash is right on track to bowl over Nature Strip again in next month’s TAB Everest.
The South Australian star emerged for the first time since his dazzling Concorde Stakes victory at the start of September in a Rosehill barrier trial on Monday where he cruised to an easy win over 1030m.
If he was to be a bit critical, Collett said he could have done a touch more despite being asked to go late in the gallop but couldn’t be happier with where the gelding sits a few weeks out from the $15m sprint pinnacle.
“As you’d have seen his ears were pricked and he was very casual out in front,’’ Collett said.
“I had to push him out to make sure he was doing enough.
“I probably would have liked it if he did a bit more but he’s come along nicely.
“We have time up our sleeve, that’s the main thing, we’re not chasing our tail trying to get the finishing touches right.’’
The five-year-old clocked 1:01.40 in winning the trial, easily the fastest of the three 1030m heats.
Gytrash wins a trial at Rosehill on September 28
It’s likely Gytrash will have an exhibition gallop between races 10 days out from the Everest, there’s a midweek meeting at Warwick Farm (where Gytrash is staying) on October 7 and that’s shaping as the day.
Collett has seen clear evidence that Gytrash is thriving at Clare Cunningham's Warwick Farm stable, he’s experiencing what trainer Gordon Richards, who arrives back in Sydney on Friday, sees on a daily basis when it comes to working out how comfortable the horse is.
“He’s really starting to show that character that Gordon says he shows at home,’’ Collett said.
“That’s been pleasing. It probably puts more merit into the win in the Concorde, going into the race he’d only started to show glimpses of his character a day or two before the race.”
TAB Everest day is shaping up to be a huge day in Collett’s life given he has the ride on It’s Me, ruling favourite for the $1.3m The Kosciuszko, and a $6 chance in the main event.
About 20 minutes before Gytrash won his trial the Everest attention centred on the favourite Nature Strip and whether he’d jump cleanly from the stalls having thrown James McDonald at the start a week earlier.
He settled at the rear after slipping just after the start, that put him on the back foot, but he strode around under a hold from McDonald to finish sixth in a 900m heat.
McDonald told Sky Racing that Nature Strip didn’t need a hard gallop and felt good through the run despite obviously not racing as close as we’re used to seeing.
“He jumped out with them and unfortunately slipped after his second stride but everything worked out well,’’ he said.
“It was a one-off thing last Monday. He just has to tick that Premiere box on Saturday and I’m sure he will run super.”
Nature Strip opened $1.80 all-in favourite with TAB for Saturday’s Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.