By Ray Hickson
Trainer Jarrod Austin hopes lightly raced sprinter Nikohli Beagle can emerge as a replacement for his former talented galloper Inanup and continue his surge through the grades at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Warwick Farm trainer revealed Inanup has been transferred to Barry Lockwood in Queensland and while he’s disappointed to lose a proven Saturday class horse Austin feels he’ll be well suited up there.
Nikohli Beagle, named after champion Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, made it four wins from five starts for Austin with an easy first-up victory at Warwick Farm earlier this month.
“We didn’t have a great expectation about him on what he’d done before but he’s gone from strength to strength,’’ Austin said.
“I think he is quite progressive, he still had another gear left the other day and that’s promising. That’s the reason he pulled up so well from the run.”
The four-year-old, $4.20 favourite on Thursday for the Agency Real Estate Handicap (1100m), rises 1kg for his first-up win and is able to stay in the same grade while contesting a $125,000 race.
Nikholi Beagle wins at Warwick Farm on June 2
Austin sees Nikohli Beagle as a short course specialist and after proving he can sit on the back of a solid tempo and sprint over 1000m is happy to let jockey Nash Rawiller assess Saturday’s race as it unfolds.
“We’ve found a nice 72 race again, it’s a little bit tougher and he’s gone up a kilo as well,’’ he said.
“Heavy is probably not ideal but he’s shown he can handle it before.
“The (Warwick Farm) race ended up being perfect for him the way it was run.
“I’ll leave it to Nash but I’d imagine he’ll probably be in the second half and as long as there’s enough speed for him to use hi turnoff foot I’d be happy.”
There is a Plan B in place should Nikohli Beagle be defeated at Rosehill and that’s to target one of the first Midway races in July.
The $100,000 Midway race will be added to Sydney metropolitan Saturdays from July 3 and is for small to medium sized provincial and city trainers who meet eligibility set out by Racing NSW.
Austin says it’s nice to have that option but is confident enough that Nikohli Beagle will prove to be better than the Benchmark 72 restriction of the early Midway races.
“He goes into the race at the top of his game, he’s got a few little obstacles with the weight and heavy track, but he’s good enough to overcome them,’’ he said.
“I thought after his first couple of wins we could go to a better level than this.
“He has a good cruising speed, you can settle him wherever you like in the run, and a good turn of foot and that's a big key to winning races.”