By Ray Hickson
Early this season Annabel Neasham had Snitzel colt Verne pegged as the most likely of her young team to front up in the big one on Golden Slipper day.
As it turned out she was represented in the two-year-old classic by Queen Of Wizardry but she’s confident Verne can make a name for himself later in the spring, which is where he’s headed if he can notch another win at Randwick on Saturday.
Verne didn’t make his debut until May 19, where he finished an unlucky second to In The Congo on the Kensington track, before a dominant Warwick Farm win two weeks later.
“I’ve always had a really big opinion of him. I originally thought he was going to be my Slipper horse but he just had a setback and didn’t make it,’’ Neasham said.
“He’s come back stronger after a short break and I’m expecting him to run really well then we can put him away for a break and bring him back for the spring if we think he is up to it.”
Neasham doesn’t seem to concerned by what awaits in the Fujitsu General Handicap (1200m) as far as track conditions go and said she won’t be overcomplicating the tactics.
The colt was $4.40 favourite with TAB on Thursday with Brodie Loy to ride.
“We’ll ride him where he’s comfortable, somewhere on speed I would expect. I don’t think it matters if he gets cover or not,’’ she said.
“The Snitzels tend to enjoy it and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t handle it.
“He’s always struck me as a horse that quite enjoys getting his toe in and that’s the reason I left him here instead of going to Queensland.”
One thing that was noticeable about Verne prior to his Warwick Farm win was how warm he paraded.
Neasham said that’s common for her horses on their home track, and Verne can be a bit toey, but would like to see a more relaxed horse on Saturday.
As far as his prospects of being a high class spring three-year-old, she said she took plenty of heart from jockey Hugh Bowman’s comments following his maiden win.
“He punched the breeze without cover the whole way and he was very soft on the line,’’ she said.
“Hughie said he gave him a really good feel and he’s sat on a lot of good colts so it’s great for him to give him a thumbs up.”
A return to a more forgiving track should bring out the best in Holyfield, Neasham said, after his last start failure in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic at Eagle Farm two weeks ago.
The three-year-old had given a bold sight in front when runner-up in a 1350m event at Doomben a fortnight earlier on a soft track.
Verne wins at Warwick Farm on June 2
“Josh Parr felt he didn’t let down on the firm track at Eagle Farm,’’ she said.
“He was disappointing last start but I’m pretty confident it was just the track because I was really happy going into the race.”
Holyfield was $11 with TAB on Thursday in the ACY Securities Handicap (1300m). His only start on a wet track at Randwick came in the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes last August, won by North Pacific, but he was first-up on that occasion.
“He seems to enjoy the cut in the ground and 1300m with cut in the ground is ideal,’’ Neasham said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him back in conditions to suit. If he can get a nice soft run he will be certainly in the finish.”