By Ray Hickson
Nine second placings.
While her illustrious stablemate Winx racks up win after win, spare a thought for In Times Of War who, despite always being in the finish, is building a reputation as a non-winner.
The description is being a bit harsh, she hasn’t finished worse than second in her 11 starts. It’s just that only two of them have been better than second.
And, frustratingly for the Chris Waller stable and owner Gerry Harvey, six of those seconds have been by 0.2 lengths or less.
“Obviously we'd prefer those nine seconds be nine firsts but she's racing consistently,’’ Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth said.
“We send every horse out to try and win their races but as long as they are trying their hardest there's not a lot more we can expect from them.’’
Nobody can doubt that the mare is trying, though many question her will to win.
Her beaten margins have been 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.2, 0.4, 1.3, 0.2, 2.3 and last start’s 0.2 lengths.
Fair call or not, her will is again tested in the Blacktown Workers Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday, for which she's a $4.40 second favourite, where it’ll be up to in-form apprentice Lee Magorrian to put in a 10 out of 10.
Or it’s highly likely it’ll be second placing number 10.
“I think she has one short, sharp sprint and that has to be used to best effect,’’ Duckworth said.
“She has a nice enough draw and Lee takes 3kg off. She needs a well timed run and she's certainly good enough to win these races.’’
In Times Of War’s latest narrow defeat came at the hands of Osborne Bulls at Canterbury on October 18.
On that occasion, she was held up for a run behind the leader and took an inside run to hit the front about 30m out before the winner grabbed her.
Her main rival on Saturday, Slow Burn ($2.80 favourite), ran third in that race and In Times Of War is 3kg worse off at the weights.
“I think she thought she'd won last start when she came along the fence,’’ Duckworth said.
“A horse on the far side flew home late and got her but she had no chance to eyeball it.’’
As usual for a Saturday, the Waller stable has a strong hand and there’ll be plenty of eyes on the second-up run by New Universe in the Bradford Solar Handicap (1400m).
The gelding was a $2.35 favourite when running third at Randwick two weeks ago and proved hard to handle in the run before closing off late.
“He was very wound up, a bit too fresh and then being resaddled behind the barriers didn't help him,’’ Duckworth said.
New Universe finishing third at Randwick - October 21
“Hopefully that run has helped him settle down. He's a top class horse and he's going to be very hard to beat. He just has to switch off and do things right.’’
On Thursday afternoon he was a $2.70 chance.
Here’s some comments from Duckworth about a couple of the stable’s more interesting runners.
Unforgotten (race 2, $3.60): “She's very smart, the 1300m is probably a bit short for her but she has the class in the race. She's certainly good enough on a big track to put them away.
“If she doesn't make it to the Oaks in Sydney she'll be one for the winter carnival.’’
Mornington (race 6, $8.00): “Richard Pegum bought him over, he hand picks them himself and does a lot of form. Anything he brings over has to be respected.
“He's had a couple of nice jump outs in Melbourne prior to coming up to Sydney. He's shown more than enough to be winning these types of traces, it's just whether at first run in Australia he can do everything right.’’