By Ray Hickson
Jockey Rachel King is no stranger to developing a powerful relationship with a horse and sees no reason why she can’t enhance her record on exciting filly Fituese at Rosehill on Saturday.
King has ridden the three-year-old six times in her seven starts and to all five wins and if successful in the Trapeze Artist @ Widden Handicap (1200m) it will become her most successful association so far.
Between April 2017 and January 2018 King rode the then Jason Coyle-trained Memes to six wins, and overall had 15 rides on the mare, but it’s fair to say Fituese’s future could be even brighter.
So the objective for King, and Fituese’s trainer John Thompson, is to get a sense for where she could be pointed in the spring by, as they often say, ‘ticking a couple of boxes’.
“I know she won a stakes race last start but it is another tough race this Saturday plus it’s 1200m on a wet track,’’ King said.
“Originally this race was to find out the 1200m question but it’s going to give us two answers.
“It’s not a bad time to be trying, it’s a benchmark race, and when we get around to the spring if a wet track comes up we’ll know if she handles it or not.
“It is more questions but I guess that’s why we’re trying to get a bit of a gauge on her this preparation to see what sort of horse we have going into the spring.’’
Fituese showed enough talent in her first preparation to start favourite at her only try at 1200m to date in the Gosford Guineas back in December - that race included the likes of Hightail, Splintex and Exhilarates to name a few.
It’s been well documented that both King and Thompson concluded she was at the end of the preparation, her fifth start, but that won’t apply on Saturday as she’s only third-up and seemingly at the top of her game after two outstanding wins including a Listed race two weeks ago.
“She’s overcome every hurdle we’ve given her so far and done it with that bit of class as well,’’ King said.
“It’s not like she has been scraping home and just winning. She’s been putting margins on them and doing it with her ears pricked.
“You can see this preparation she has come back bigger and stronger so she should be ready to cope with it.’’
The filly has been something of a sectional star in both her wins this time around, in her Denise’s Joy win she ran a 32.99 final 600m and broke 11 seconds (10.99) for her last 200m (Punter's Intelligence).
King said there are a couple of things about Fituese that give her confidence that a soft to heavy track she will strike at Rosehill shouldn’t cause her too many issues.
“She is a very good moving horse, she’s very well balanced and covers the ground well,’’ she said.
Bottega wins at Randwick on May 9
“She’s light on her feet and they tend to find it easier because they don’t get into the ground too much. It’s always difficult to tell until you’ve raced, race day conditions are more testing.’’
Fituese was a dominant $1.65 favourite with TAB on Friday and is one of three early favourites King will partner on Saturday – the others being Sally’s Day ($4), who was third to Fituese at her last start, and Soldier Of Love who is $2.80 in the Schweppes Handicap (1500m).
Soldier Of Love is a horse that King says has progressed greatly since his last preparation and will be a tough horse to get past as he was when scoring at Randwick three weeks ago.
“He surprised us a little bit first-up considering he was only running in midweek races last prep then followed it up with a gusty win last start,’’ she said.
“That’s the kind of hose he is, he’s no superstar but he is very tough and very genuine. He has a fantastic attitude for a racehorse, he wants to win every start.’’