By Ray Hickson
Rachel King has a real soft spot for speedy mare Memes and it’s easy to understand why.
As the pair reunite at Randwick on Saturday, King said the four-year-old has played an important role in helping put her on the map and in the headlines in Sydney last winter.
“She was one of those horses that really gave me a push along,’’ King said.
“Those horses are what you want because they get your name in the paper every week and if you keep riding winners on them other people see it as well.’’
Memes, who resumes in the Summer Sprint (1000m) and opened $3.10 favourite with TAB, won five races in her winter preparation beginning in a Kembla Grange maiden and she went to a spell after contesting the Group 2 Missile Stakes.
So she certainly charged through the grades.
As did the 27-year-old who ended 2016-17 as runner-up in the apprentices title but this season holds a healthy 11 win lead over Blaike McDougall, reigning champ Andrew Adkins and Jean Van Overmeire.
What did you make of Memes in her trial at Warwick Farm on Monday?
King said Memes has pleased her and trainer Jason Coyle in two trials without blinkers, the latest on Monday, ahead of her resumption but also recognises she’s starting in a significantly stronger grade than in the winter.
“She feels great, obviously first-up she’s stepping into good company but she deserves to be there,’’ she said.
“She couldn’t feel any better in her trials but we haven’t asked her to do anything off the bridle.
“She’s continued on from what she was doing last preparation, she will improve a bit from the first run but she’s ready to go and will definitely be competitive.
“She’s always going to have a lot of speed, there’s no point trying to ride her any different, but as long as she’s settling while bowling along that’s what we want.’’
While Memes is well known for her on pace prowess, stayer Napoleon is not so push button but King was encouraged – and very frustrated – by his luckless first-up effort on January 1.
The eight-year-old was a $61 chance when he was beaten in a close finish over a mile and steps to a more suitable trip in the Liberty International Underwriters Handicap (2000m) where he’s a shade shorter at $21.
“He was so unlucky. He copped a big bump and was struck with the whip as well, it was a huge run,’’ she said.
“Whenever I’ve ridden him you always get to the outside and let him run on because he doesn’t like going through gaps.’’
Trained by Jarrod Austin, Napoleon ran a last 600m of 33.73 fresh with his last 200m in 11.53 (from Punters Intel) and King said she’s pleased the gelding has had a few weeks between runs.
On the other end of the spectrum she’s excited about riding two-year-old Patron Black ($13) in the Australian Fire Hose Plate (1000m) after an impressive trial win.
The Gary Portelli-trained colt overcame trouble usually reserved for race day in winning his only public trial over 735m on December 29.
“He trialled super. He was a bit green out of the barriers and took a few strides to get going,’’ King said.
“Believe it or not I nearly didn’t get out on him. He suddenly travelled up really well on the bridle and I got stuck in behind them for a few strides.
“As soon as I gave him a squeeze he took off and won the trial convincingly. He has a lot of ability and it will be interesting to see how he handles it all.’’