By Ray Hickson
How can Tarka turn the tables on Thinkin’ Big for a 2.5 length defeat when the pair clash in the Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday?
That’s a question trainer David Payne has been asking himself and he’s producing blinkers as the weapon he hopes can bridge the gap from their Gloaming Stakes meeting two weeks ago.
“A set of blinkers will keep him more focused,’’ Payne said.
“He is quite a laid back fellow, he was off the bit the whole way the other day and James (McDonald) said he was casual about everything.
“I think we were too far back the other day and he hit a flat spot but, in saying that, Thinkin’ Big is a good horse and is going to be hard to beat.’’
Thinkin' Big downs Tarka in the Gloaming Stakes at Rosehill on September 22
Interestingly, Tarka ran the fastest last 600m of the Gloaming in 34.70 (Punters Intel).
The prospect of a wet track doesn’t bother Payne. The bigger issue is whether Thinkin’ Big is allowed to dictate the Spring Champion as he did in the Gloaming or if something takes him on.
“That’s our only hope, if he gets a soft lead he is going to be hard to run down,’’ Payne said.
“I think there is more depth to this field than what he’s been racing. There are a couple of unknowns there.’’
Thinkin’ Big was $3.50 TAB favourite on Thursday with Tarka and $8 chance.
Payne, who won last year's Spring Champion with Ace High, said Tarka had a solid 1600m gallop on Tuesday morning and was pushed out to ensure he did plenty of work.
He’s somewhat bullish that All Too Soon can be very competitive in the Group 3 $160,000 Harrolds Angst Stakes (1600m) off an unlucky fifth over the same course three weeks ago.
The four-year-old was beaten two lengths by Muraaqeb but had a stop-start passage in the straight.
“She’s never been better, she just needs galloping room,’’ Payne said.
“The other day if she gets room she just about wins. You can’t hold her up and expect her to pick up again, it takes her a while to pick up momentum.’’
All Too Soon is a $12 chance in the Angst with TAB.