By Ray Hickson
There’s a sense that trainer Joe Pride is a little blown away by what’s under the bonnet of emerging colt Torun and he’s hoping to see more of what the youngster has to offer at Randwick on Saturday.
Pride could easily have taken a lower road than the Ranvet Handicap (1100m) for his runaway debut Hawkesbury maiden winner but said the Benchmark 72 race is an ideal opportunity to throw down a small gauntlet.
Torun skated through heavy ground on debut under Brenton Avdulla, winning by almost four lengths, and he ran over four lengths faster than the older horses over the 1000m on the same program.
“What he did first start in a race, it’s very unusual for one of my horses to go that well at their first go but I think that is an indicator of how much ability he has,’’ Pride said.
“He’s a young horse, whether he can produce it again and go up that’s the big question for Saturday but I’m pretty excited about him. Everything about him tells me he has improved.
“There was a 64 at Kembla, I could have gone there, but he’s a colt and he’s been left a colt for a reason.
“We want to test him out against better horses. We’re raising the bar significantly for him, he’s either going to fly over it or smack into it. I’m happy to give him the opportunity.’’
The buzz around Torun’s debut win has led to him owning favouritism, $3.10 with TAB, at Randwick on Saturday, in a race for three and four-year-olds, and if he takes the transition in his stride it will cause Pride to do some thinking.
It’s not in the Pride textbook to go too deep into a preparation with a young horse – one of his stable stars Fasika won all three starts, including a Listed race, in her first campaign - and he’s wary of that but he holds a nomination for the Group 1 Golden Rose ($51 with TAB).
“We put in the acceptance because we didn’t want to be caught out,’’ he said.
“It’d be very difficult for him to take on those seasoned horses, I wouldn’t think so but I’m not ruling it out at the same time.
“If he went really well maybe we run in the San Domenico then tip him out. But I’m open to this horse telling me different, I feel like he’s super promising and I don’t want to ruin him at an early age.”
Pride is hoping in-form mare De Grawin can keep up the good work in the Sky Racing Active Handicap (1000m) while he’s using an unusual gear change on stablemate Beach Baby who resumes in the same race.
De Grawin ($5 with TAB) led all the way to win over the Randwick 1000m two weeks ago and Pride said she’s going well enough to be competitive in what he sees as a harder race.
“She’s deep into her prep now, you wouldn’t think there’s improvement in her,’’ he said.
“Does she need to improve to win this? Probably. If she can maintain it and maybe tack on a bit she will be competitive.
Torun's impressive win at Hawkesbury on July 30
“I feel like she’s accomplished what we set out to achieve at the start of the prep so this is a bonus run. That’s not to say she’s fading away, I think she’s going well, you just wonder how many times you can improve in one preparation.”
Beach Baby will be sporting ear plugs when he has his first start sine May and you can expect to see a few more Pride horses using the gear in coming weeks.
It’s a piece of gear Pride was put onto by his former boss John Size, he said there are variations but they are making a difference to Beach Baby ($9) in his work and trials.
“The ones I’m using are about three quarters of the size of a golf ball, it’s a soft spongy ball and it blocks out sound,’’ he said.
“I’ve been playing around with them for the last month or two and there’ll be a few horses stepping out in them over the next bit.
“He’s a hot horse, these seem to calm him down and his trials have been good in them. He wears them every day.
“He’s a nice big horse, it’s a jump up in class, he was only midweek level last time around but he handles wet tracks and I would have thought he’d be thereabouts.’’