By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gordon Richards can't help but be excited when he considers how things might pan out for his TAB Everest contender Gytrash in his Sydney debut at Randwick on Saturday.
The ‘giant killing’ South Australian sprinter holds the Inglis slot in next month’s Everest and we’ll find out quickly where he might stand six weeks out from the grand final.
Richards said looking at the make up of the Group 3 $160,000 TAB Concorde Stakes (1000m) he can picture a perfect scenario for Gytrash to be a serious chance of knocking over odds-on favourite Nature Strip for the second time this year.
Given the intent by Ball Of Muscle’s trainer Joe Pride to hold out Nature Strip for the front Richards says it’ll allow Gytrash to be right in his comfort zone behind the expected genuine speed which didn't materialise in his narrow last start Group 1 defeat in Adelaide.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s going to map well for us,’’ he said.
“His biggest problem in the Goodwood was there wasn’t enough pace on up front to get him off the bit and chasing.
“He’ll get that opportunity on Saturday, he’ll be doing some chasing because those two will run along.
“He’s going to be better off over longer, even though he’s won a few races over 1000m, where you’ve got pace on and there’s going to be no shortage of that.’’
Gytrash’s record at 1000m reads seven starts for six wins and a second and one of those wins was first-up in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February where he started $21 and beat Nature Strip out of a place.
He then started $10 when third behind Bivouac in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap and $15 as he split Loving Gaby and Bivouac in the Group 1 William Reid before his two start campaign back home in Adelaide.
The five-year-old has been handed more respect ahead of the Concorde where he’s $3.50 second favourite with TAB behind the nation’s top rated sprinter.
“Everyone likes to be the underdog but we’ve got his scalp once, who knows lightning might strike twice,’’ he quipped.
And now that the Concorde has arrived the Everest dream is now starting to become real for Gytrash’s connections.
Richards said he’s seen some excellent signs that Gytrash is thriving this week having settled into life at Clare Cunningham’s stable at Warwick Farm and been put through his paces by race day jockey Jason Collett.
Shortly after making the 1600km road trip from Adelaide, Gytrash ran a close second behind Fasika in a barrier trial where he took a few strides to balance up on his Sydney leg before dashing late.
“It’s gone without a hiccup really. Clare’s looking after us at the stables and Inglis can’t do enough for us,’’ he said.
“Jason isn’t a big talker but he only says what he has to say and the feedback is good. I’m reading him pretty well and he’s a good lad too, I like him.
“The horse has gone exactly how I thought, he’s a great traveller and nothing seems to faze him and he’s settled in really well.
Gytrash runs second in a trial at Warwick Farm on August 21
“The best he’s been has been the last three or four days, he’s really at home."
It’s worth noting that Gytrash will have synthetic hoof filler on in the Concorde and Richards said this was a precautionary addition after the horse had an abscess while he was in the paddock and developed a small crack on a heel.
“It was nothing but we thought we’d get onto it early and fill it,’’ Richards said.
“We could have got away without it but the farrier wanted to do it because we had plenty of time before his first race.”
Richards said he hasn't yet decided Gytrash's next step, he could run in either the Group 2 Shorts (1100m) in two weeks or Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) in a month before the $15m TAB Everest on October 17.