By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gerald Ryan doesn’t fear the outside barrier for impressive first-up winner Mansa Musa but is concerned the gelding could plateau at Rosehill on Saturday.
Mansa Musa ran right up to two strong trial wins when he led all the way at Randwick on November 5 and Ryan has purposely given him 24 days into the Ranvet Handicap (1100m) to get over that run.
“I always say when they win first-up they don’t go home and jump out of the ground,’’ Ryan said.
“They hold their own or go backwards. When they win first-up it means you have them pretty near right and he was coming off two solid trials.’’
It was Mansa Musa’s first win since he was successful at his first two starts but after a couple of failures in the autumn, on wet tracks, the decision was made to geld him.
Obviously the benefit of that was immediate and it could be the key to the horse holding his form.
“He’s a lot more relaxed when he is galloping now,’’ Ryan said.
“When he was a colt he was inclined to rev up a bit, it was probably immaturity more than anything, but he doesn’t any more. He always showed good ability, he’s been no slouch the whole way along.’’
On the back of the first-up win the four-year-old was holding favouritism at $4.20 with TAB on Thursday despite drawing barrier 13 from the chute start at Rosehill.
Ryan said jockey Josh Parr will look to offset the gate as best he can and is sure if the first 300m pans out in his favour the horse will have his chance.
“I know the record at the 1100m is not great for wide barriers but he begins quick, he rolls forward and he will either cross them or sit just behind them,’’ he said.
“He will be on top of the speed.’’
Track specialist Albumin ($14) kicks off his latest campaign in the Listed $140,000 Drinkwise Starlight Stakes (1100m) having won over the same course at his last run back in June.
Ryan said there were excuses for the grey’s first-up failure last preparation and while he’s only had the one trial it was a serious one with the blinkers on.
“First-up last time in he pulled a front shoe off in the race and he jarred up, it took ages to get his foot right,’’ he said.
“He always improves off a run, there’s good speed and it is a good race for this time of year.
Mansa Musa wins at Kensington on November 5
“He has no weight on his back, he’s only had the one trial but we put blinkers on and made sure he trialled strongly. Whatever he does on Saturday he will improve off it.’’
The blinkers could be the key to coaxing a win out of Coterie in the John R Turk Shop Online Save Time Handicap (1300m) after finishing just behind the placings in three starts this time in.
Coterie won back-to-back races in the late spring last year and Ryan said he didn’t think he’d go 12 months without winning another.
The gelding chased the winner all the way in running fourth behind Burning Crown at Newcastle two weeks ago and is a $6.50 chance at Rosehill.
“He’s knocking on the door, I’d like to see him win a race. He’s threatening but not doing it,’’ he said.
“We had blinkers on him in the Inglis race at Warwick Farm but when we stepped him up in journey we took them off.’’