By Ray Hickson
Trainer John Thompson says a Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) win by Sweet Deal at Rosehill on Saturday would be just reward for the patience of the in-form mare’s owners.
Though she has dabbled at Group level at various stages as a younger horse, the five-year-old’s rise has been a swift one when you consider a year ago her best wins were a couple of Benchmark 78 races in non-carnival time.
But Thompson said a decision made at the end of that summer prep in early 2019, plus the addition of jockey Nash Rawiller, set her up for a prime opportunity in the feature fillies and mares’ handicap of the carnival.
“Sometimes patience pays off,’’ Thompson said.
“The owners have been patient with her and were good enough to let her have a good spell and the proof is in the pudding. We have a new horse back.
“She’s just got better with age. She raced well as a two-year-old but probably had a bit too much racing early. She went off the boil a bit at three and she just seemed to be going through the motions a little.
“Last prep she went through her grades and got to stakes level and this time in she’s even better again.’’
Rawiller has had five rides on Sweet Deal for four wins and a very close third but was unable to ride her through suspension in her last start second in the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m).
It was a big effort by the mare considering Punter's Intelligence sectional data showed she carved out the first 600m in 34.36, she ran the 1200m-600m in 32.15 so had to be vulnerable late as her final 600m of 35.44 illustrates – that time was a full second slower, or six lengths, than the winner Dawn Dawn who nailed her on the post.
The Guy Walter is the traditional Coolmore lead up and Sweet Deal meets Dawn Dawn 0.5kg better for that 0.1 length defeat but third placed Pohutukawa, who was a similar distance away, is 1.5kg better off compared to Sweet Deal and 2kg better against Dawn Dawn.
So Thompson knows there's no margin for error but has no doubts about Sweet Deal, $4.40 with TAB on Thursday, at 1500m and backs Rawiller’s judgment to get the job done.
“A massive thing is the way Nash rides her, he rides her with confidence,’’ he said.
“He cuddles her and lets her do it herself. I think she will run it out strongly with Nash on.
“She’ll be in the first four or five but no stress, I’ll leave it up to Nash. There will be no instructions, he knows her better than anyone.
“He came here on Tuesday to gallop her and was rapt.’’
Sweet Deal runs second at Randwick on February 29
Thompson’s Golden Slipper runner Mamaragan, brilliant winner of the Skyline Stakes on debut two weeks ago, will have an exhibition gallop after race two at Rosehill.
He isn’t expecting two-year-old filly Embeller, who runs in the Group 3 $175,000 Antler Luggage Magic Night Stakes (1200m), to join Mamaragan in the Slipper but is hopeful she can earn a black type placing.
As for his other runners at Rosehill, Thompson said Domed needs to lift her game if she’s to snap a two year run of outs in the Iron Jack Handicap (1900m).
“She’s been going through the motions a bit, I’ve put the blinkers back on and we’ll put her over some hurdles to try and switch her on,’’ he said.
And Commander and Thy Kingdom Come tackle the Cerrone Handicap (1350m) – “they are both horses that are going well and will improve having a run’’.