By Ray Hickson
He’s held them back as an ace card to play for 19 starts and now trainer David Payne is throwing down the gauntlet to consistent galloper Costello by finally calling for the blinkers at Randwick on Wednesday.
To be fair, Costello is racing well with four placings from as many starts this year but Payne doesn’t want it to be five placings after the Press Statement @ Vinery Handicap (1800m).
It’s a gear change Payne says he only uses when all else has failed and he saw more than enough in his easy barrier trial win over the smart Bandersnatch last week to say the blinkers will do the trick.
“I always do it as a last resort,’’ he said.
“We tried him the other day and he seemed a much better horse with them on. On his best form he should win a race like this.”
Costello was the $2.90 favourite on Tuesday with TAB to post his first win since February last year with another enigmatic type in Welsh Legend the second elect.
Costello wins a trial at Rosehill on April 6
Payne said Costello had excuses for his last start third, also over the 1800m on the Kensington track, a month ago where he overdid it in front and expects he won’t be leading this time around.
“The other day he was chased to the front with 61kg from a wide draw so just put a pen through it,’’ he said.
“He’s a better horse when you sit on him and it’s a small field so it’d be nice to have him third or fourth. He does have a big weight again but he is a big strong horse.”
Payne produces a couple of two-year-olds early in the program with Firebomb making her debut in the Hyland Race Colours Plate (1100m) and Pyrmont resuming in the Sky Racing Active Plate (1100m).
Firebomb is a $34 chance and Payne said she’s a horse for later on so will probably run up to her price but does have a target next month for Pyrmont.
The gelding, $12 with TAB, ran a respectable fourth back in February on the Kensington track and pleased the trainer with his trial win at Rosehill last week.
He’s being aimed at the $100,000 Inglis 2yo Challenge (1100m) at Scone on May 15.
“He’s a nice horse but he does have an awkward draw,’’ he said.
“I’d like to get a couple of runs into him before the Scone race so he might need it but I expect him to be competitive.”