Hawkesbury trainer Scott Singleton considers it is “the right time” to make an important gear change on his sole runner at Thursday’s home meeting.
And he’s banking on the alteration, along with rainfall, enabling his New Zealand-bred four-year-old Decapitor ($3.30 on TAB fixed odds) to cut down his rivals and thus shed his maiden status by ending a run of four consecutive second placings.
Singleton, never afraid to make gear changes on his horses when he considers them necessary, is taking winkers off and putting blinkers back on the gelding for the Campari Maiden Handicap (1800m). Jess Taylor has been aboard Decapitor in his four seconds and again gets the opportunity to partner him to a breakthrough victory.
“Jess has ridden the horse well in those races, and I’ve got no reason at all to take her off,” Singleton said this morning. “Decapitor was in the right race at Cessnock last time (a 2125m Maiden on September 17), but the tight track and surface (Firm 2) didn’t help him.
“He is coming back in distance at Hawkesbury, hence the decision to put blinkers back on him for the first time this campaign and take winkers off. We’ve had rain here this morning and the track will be soft. Being a Kiwi, that should suit him. I feel it is the right time to change gear and hopefully, it brings about the desired result.”
Singleton purchased the well-named son of Guillotine in New Zealand cheaply at the 2016 Select yearling sale because he “liked him as a type”. Whilst the grey is yet to win, he has already recouped the purchase price – his four recent placings earning $22,000.
Decapitor’s sequence of seconds began on Canberra’ synthetic track on August 10 over 1750m and continued at Newcastle (1885m on August 25), Gosford (1900m on September 6) and then Cessnock. His trainer is at present unsure whether a victory at home tomorrow will, in fact, put his gelding in the unusual situation of possibly winning two maiden races.
Decapitor chased home Iron Duke in a Maiden Plate at Newcastle on August 25, and that horse’s swab has subsequently returned a prohibited level of cobalt, with a stewards’ inquiry pending.
Singleton is satisfied with his start to the season, having prepared four winners (three at Goulburn and Cyclonite on his home track last Thursday) so far, and is looking forward to getting his stable star Shazee Lee and promising lightly-raced Tavistock mare Stock Up (also purchased at the same NZ sale as Decapitor) back to the races soon: “They are both only a couple of weeks away from trialling,” Singleton said.
Shazee Lee gave her trainer his biggest success when she landed the Group 3 Blacktown Workers Club Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) in April last year. She also won Hawkesbury’s heat of that year’s Provincial Championships over the same course the previous month.
Shazee Lee hasn’t raced since finishing fourth to Pecans in the Group 3 Godolphin Crown (1300m) at Hawkesbury’s annual stand-alone meeting on April 28, and Singleton is looking to give her another chance – she ran fifth to Duca Valentinois last year - to win the $150,000 Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at home on November 8.
Stock Up has been placed (all seconds) at three of her seven starts to date. Two of those seconds were in town, the latest in a 1200m Maiden Plate at Rosehill Gardens on April 2 when she beat home Youngstar (third); the subsequent Group 1 Queensland Oaks winner and now leading Caulfield Cup candidate.
Co-trainers Peter and Paul Snowden are poised to strike early at Hawkesbury. Team Snowden has three fancied runners; early favorite Signore Fox (Mitchell Bell, $2.40) and third favorite Delfuego (Tye Angland, $3.90) in the opening event, the Canadian Club Zero Class 2 Handicap (1300m) and favourite Deitra (Christian Reith, $2.40) in the Seppelt The Great Entertainer Maiden Plate (1300m).
Ironically, Deitra’s rider Reith is an opponent against the Snowden pair in the Class 2 as he partners second favorite My Song, whom he rode in a Benchmark 64 Handicap victory over the same course at last Thursday’s meeting.
Signore Fox did a good job to snare a Class 1 Handicap (1200m) at Newcastle on September 15 – his second win from three starts since resuming – whilst Delfuego will have taken improvement from his first-up third to Jack’s Bar in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) at Newcastle on September 4.
So You Think mare Deitra has raced only once when third to Wild Horizon in a 1200m Maiden at Newcastle on May 19 and made nice ground without being ridden out when fourth over 845m in the last of 15 trials at Wyong on September 10 on soft ground.
Meanwhile, Hawkesbury mare Spright (Damien Oliver, $61) has drawn the rails barrier in a field of 13 for Friday night’s $500,000 Group 1 wfa Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley.
The rail is 2m out from the 600m to the 400m for tomorrow’s meeting and in the TRUE position for the remainder. Racecourse manager Jeff Haynes downgraded the track to a Soft 6 following 8mls of rain since 7am up until 12 noon.
PAUL JOICE'S SELECTIONS
RACE 1: SIGNORE FOX, My Zebrinka, Delfuego.
RACE 2: DEITRA, Devil’s Luck, Ulusaba.
RACE 3: MISSYBEEL, Alnaas, Beauty Kanas.
RACE 4: COSTELLO, Avalene, Decapitor.
RACE 5: ANOTHER SHADOW, Chamfer, The Sprooker.
RACE 6: SPARKLY STAR, Rhyming Puppet, Prince Planet.
RACE 7: BANDOL, Iona Nicconi, Phoebe’s Lass.
RACE 8: HIGH RUSH, Chief Kidder, Cinderconi.
SPECIALS: SIGNORE FOX, DEITRA, BANDOL