By Ray Hickson
Jockey Koby Jennings isn’t going to let a couple of extra kilos dampen his confidence that classy mare Luvaluva can claim back-to-back stakes wins at Randwick on Saturday.
The pair combined to take out the Group 3 Summer Cup on Boxing Day by a widening margin, handing Jennings his first Group success, and face fewer rivals in the Listed $150,000 January Cup (2000m).
Jennings said he doesn’t see an extra 2.5kg as a burden given how the John Sargent-trained five-year-old felt in the run and her dominance at the finish against similar opposition.
“She has to carry the weight and rightfully so with the quality horse that she is,’’ he said.
“Hopefully I don't have to ride her any differently and I can’t see this race working out much differently.’’
That win snapped an 18 month stint out of the winner’s stall for Luvaluva and she was a warm $2.40 favourite with TAB on Thursday to make it three wins over the Randwick 2000m.
Jennings said the Summer Cup panned out perfectly for him when he was able to follow Tamarack into a midfield position by the 800m, he hooked her out before the turn and had them covered.
That’s how it looked and that’s how Jennings says it felt too.
“She was that little bit keen early but we got the cart up behind Christian's horse up the back straight and that was a massive help,’’ he said.
“She picked up at the half mile and just built and felt stronger the further she went.
“Once we got past the turn down the back straight she never felt like being beaten.’’
On the other end of the betting, trainer Richard Litt warned not to underestimate imported galloper National Guard ($15) as he steps up in class and distance.
The former Aidan O’Brien-trained entire has raced twice in restricted company, finishing an eye-catching eighth behind Something Fast at 1400m then a 3.6 length seventh behind Berdibek over 1800m.
While the horse's rating is 35 points inferior to Luvaluva (104), Litt is adamant National Guard is a very talented stayer in the making and says the smaller field should afford him every chance to prove it.
Luvaluva wins the Summer Cup at Randwick on December 26
“He was very unlucky last start, he got into a tricky position and he was very untested in the run,’’ Litt said.
“In Europe they don't race too tight and if he can get plenty of room and a nice run without interruption he's going to be right in the money. He's a very good horse.’’
If Litt’s opinion proves correct it’s likely National Guard will stay in training through the autumn and be aimed at a Brisbane winter campaign.
Meanwhile, star three-year-old Castelvecchio is set to have his first trial on January 28 with his return to racing pencilled in for the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) on February 22.
Castelvecchio is the early $6 TAB favourite for the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Day 2 of The Championships in April.