By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gerald Ryan has one eye on a summer campaign for emerging three-year-old Bottega and that will begin to take shape when he has his second attempt at 2000m at Rosehill on Saturday.
The colt isn’t being considered for races like the Epsom or Golden Eagle in the spring at this stage but Ryan said the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m), which offers exemption into the Doncaster Mile next autumn, appeals as an attractive target.
So if Bottega can run up to his favouritism and win the Listed $150,000 Lord Mayors Cup (2000m), ticking that 10 furlong box, it’ll make the job of qualifying for better races easier and provide a guide to where he stands.
“You wouldn’t consider the spring when we’ve gone this far in a preparation, you might look at those good races next autumn,’’ Ryan said.
“I thought coming in late is the way to go, perhaps a race like the Villiers or something. In the summer if he needs further you have the Summer Cup and races like those.’’
Bottega had his first look at 2000m in the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate and finished a closing second behind boom three-year-old Kinane.
He was balloted out of the Gosford Cup, run at Randwick on May 9, but gained a consolation by winning an 1800m benchmark on the same day in impressive fashion.
Ryan had to sweat on a couple of scratchings to make the Lord Mayors Cup field, a consequence of his 85 rating, but now that’s occurred he’s excited to see what Bottega can produce.
“I’m looking forward to getting him back to 2000m, he’s only had the one go at it and he was good behind a good horse,’’ he said.
“I’d like to see if he is a 2000m horse or if 1800m is going to pull him up. There’s another race in a few weeks time at Rosehill so we could poke through until that and then we have enough time to give him six weeks and come back late in the spring.’’
The Winter Cup (2400m) is run at Rosehill on June 13 while the McKell Cup (2000m) is staged two weeks later at the same track.
Ryan said the most encouraging thing about Bottega’s progress this preparation has been his improving racing manners and he’s sure once they are perfected he could take on better company.
He said he reminds him of Ready To Lift, a mare who took a while to work the game out but once she did she was able to progress from benchmark to winning Group races quickly.
“He raced terrific the other day, it was probably the best he’s ever raced,’’ Ryan said.
“The nearest I could relate to him is Ready To Lift. She took ages and she didn’t win until her eighth start, she was getting beaten in maidens.
“She’d do a lot wrong and throw races away but once she hit her straps she won at her eighth and ninth starts and I was going to set her for the Queensland Oaks but she has an issue.
Bottega wins at Randwick on May 9
“Then we had Equine Influenza and she won a 1200m race first-up, away she went and she ended up winning 10 out of 42.’’
Bottega was $3.90 favourite with TAB on Thursday afternoon, the same price as stablemate Sally’s Day who heads the market in the Magna Grecia @ Coolmore Australia Handicap (1200m).
The filly made the leap from a Benchmark 64 win first-up at Wyong when chasing home Fituese in the Listed Denise’s Joy (1100m) two weeks ago.
“She’s going to 1200m for the first time but she has come back well and ran terrific the other day,’’ Ryan said.
“It’s probably just as tough against the boys but she’s going well.”
Ryan also has Zourhea and Mansa Musa engaged at Rosehill but unless there’s significant improvement in the track, rated Heavy 9 on Thursday, he’ll likely look elsewhere.