By Ray Hickson
The patient approach trainer David Payne is taking with Costello speaks volumes about what he thinks the four-year-old could achieve in the next 12 months or so.
While there’s an argument for striking while the iron’s hot, Payne is adamant Costello will develop into a Group 1 stayer but sees nothing to gain from pushing him there before he’s ready.
Case in point is his decision to scratch the gelding from last week’s Randwick meeting, what was a very winnable race but on a soft to heavy surface, and wait for good ground in the Bankstown Sports Club Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
“I’m just going to go through the grades if all goes well and worry about the features later on,’’ Payne said.
“He’s still a young horse and I don’t want to over cook him.
“I don’t know about a two mile horse but he will comfortably get 2400m.’’
Costello, who finished better than midfield in the Australian Derby in the autumn, served notice that he is close to a win with an eye-catching second behind Dr Drill on a soft track three weeks ago.
He produced the fastest last 600m of the race, 34.55, and his final 200m of 12 seconds (Punter's Intelligence) was also the race best and further merit can be found in the subsequent win of Matowi, who finished third, in the race Costello was scratched from last week.
“He was fit last week, he hasn’t changed, he gets a good track and is out to a perfect distance,’’ Payne said.
“I didn’t want to bust him on a wet track, I made up my mind quite early and I think it was the right decision.’’
Payne said jockey Jason Collett, who has ridden Costello to his last two wins, should be able to set the $3.50 TAB favourite, in a perfect spot from barrier two and from there it’s up to the horse.
Stablemate All Too Soon makes her return in the Dooleys Handicap (1400m) as it closes in on 12 months since her last win.
But the mare was runner-up to Seaway when resuming in the autumn, and did record two Group 3 placings that prep, and Payne said she’s come back in fine order and expects her to beat more home than beats her.
Costello runs second at Randwick on July 20
“It’s a bit short for her but she will run a cheeky race,’’ he said.
“She has come back a very strong filly. I wish it were 1600m, I’d be more confident, but it’s not.’’
Meanwhile, a gelding operation could be hanging over the talented but enigmatic War Baron after his defeat at Canterbury on Wednesday.
The colt is now winless after nine starts and Payne said he’s just about run out of excuses for War Baron.
“He was going well until that horse took off and he just dropped the bit completely then he couldn’t get around the corner,’’ he said.
“The jury’s out on him, I might take him to a big track where he can settle.’’