By Ray Hickson
Trainer Bernie Kelly describes himself as conservative when it comes to his horses but he admits he does have one eye on snaring a free ticket into next year’s Doncaster Mile with his stable star Bobbing.
The Provincial Championships winner faces his biggest class test in the Group 3 $160,000 Iron Jack Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday and if he performs to Kelly’s hopes then he’ll be given his chance in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) two weeks later.
The Villiers offers the winner a ballot exemption into the feature Group 1 mile of The Championships.
“He’s up into Group 3 class so it will be a good test to where he is up to,’’ Kelly said.
“We’ll have a fair idea after Saturday whether we head to the Villiers or not.
“He has to run really well for me to say let’s keep going ahead. Me being a bit conservative, I like to take one race at a time but (the Villiers) gives you a gold ticket to get in.
“Then you don’t have to be chasing around and do things you wouldn’t normally do so being locked in (for the Doncaster) you can keep to your routine.’’
Bobbing is used to doing the chasing as his racing style means he’s always giving away a head start and while that will be the case in the Festival the gelding will carry just 53kg, the lightest weight in his 13 starts to date.
As is the norm, Bobbing has been an eye-catcher in his two runs this spring for a third in The Kosciuszko (1200m) and a last start fourth, running a race best 33.67 for his last 600m (Punter's Intelligence), in a Benchmark 88 under 60kg at Newcastle over 1300m after he was balloted out of The Hunter.
Scone based Kelly said the step up in distance and drop in weight are major advantages for Bobbing as is the shorter turnaround between races.
“Last start carrying 60kg they kept building and really made him carry his weight,’’ he said.
“I could have been a little kind to him in between those races, he had a good blow after that race.
“He might be able to get into his rhythm a bit more over the 1500m. I’d like to think there will be a reasonable tempo on and with a bit of luck in running I’m sure he will be there in the firing line.’’
Kelly said Bobbing’s work on Wednesday was as good as the gelding produces, that his action looked in order and his trackwork rider gave the thumbs up.
The 7kg weight drop meant regular jockey Koby Jennings is unable to partner Bobbing on Saturday so Kelly has engaged James Innes Jnr for the mount.
Bobbing runs fourth at Newcastle on November 16
Given the two riders share a manager, Kelly is sure Jennings will pass on some important pointers to Innes Jnr so he can get the best out of the six-year-old who is notoriously tricky to ride.
“When you get down to that sort of weight your options are limited,’’ he said.
“Bobbing can put himself out of the race if he wants to so you have to know when to put him into the race.
“He doesn’t give you a good feel midway through the race but once you give him encouragement he puts himself in overdrive. He should quicken with 53kg on his back.’’
Bobbing was a $6 chance with TAB in the Festival on Wednesday.