By Ray Hickson
Trainer Matthew Smith has no doubt Nimalee has the potential to be a stakes winner in time but isn't prepared to force the issue just yet.
A winner of four of her seven starts, the four-year-old will be second-up in the ANZ Bloodstock News Handicap (1550m) at Canterbury on Wednesday after Smith elected to miss a higher benchmark race at Randwick last weekend.
“The track was firmish on Saturday which I don’t think she loves,’’ he said.
“I thought I’m probably a better chance of getting a win on a Wednesday and getting four or five points, if I get beaten on a Saturday I don’t get any.
“So I thought we’d go where we can get the rating up.”
Trainers spend plenty of time working out where to best place their horse but it’s also like walking a tightrope, particularly with a mare, balancing placement with the desire to earn black type.
And in spring the temptation is always there to skip a grade.
Nimalee has a 78 rating and if it wasn’t Everest Carnival time there’d be few races for her at midweek level and if she wins on Wednesday, where she’s $3.90 with TAB, it’ll be a while before she returns to the midweeks.
“The end goal is always to get them up to the highest rating you can, to get some black type somewhere,’’ Smith said.
“If she runs 2000m or further she could be well above average, we just have to wait and see. She looks like she will but she has to go out and do it.’’
Smith was pleased with Nimalee’s first-up second behind Dancing Gidget at Rosehill on August 29.
She sat third in the run and was chasing a fair way from home, the winner raced to her inside and pinched ground by gaining a split across the leader’s heels.
“It was a good run, she ran super, I couldn’t fault her,’’ he said.
“She was first-up at 1500m, I suppose she was entitled to get a bit tired late but she stuck her neck out and was tough to the line.
“She should improve significantly second-up.”
Kerrin McEvoy, who notched his 2000th career winner on Saturday, continues his association with Nimalee at Canterbury.
It’s clear Smith has plenty of time for another honest mare in Tricky Gal who resumes in the Iron Jack Handicap (1250m) and he’s expecting a sound first-up run but warns Canterbury may not suit her.
Nimalee runs second at Rosehill on August 29
The five-year-old, $15 with TAB, is unbeaten first-up, last prep she won a 1200m benchmark 74 at Warwick Farm in April and will carry 4kg less than in that race with Tom Sherry’s claim.
“She’s in good order, she wouldn’t mind a bit of sting out of the ground,’’ he said.
“She’s a really nice mare, Canterbury isn’t the right track for her at all but we have to get a run under her belt.
“She’s been in good form at home, it’s a nice race to kick her off. You never know, with a bit of luck she might get the split at the right time and be in it.”
Among his other Canterbury runners Smith said he can expect Bentley Magic to run well, if he relaxes, at his first test over 1900m while Duchess Of Windsor will probably head to the Lismore Cup and Deep Crystal, chasing a hat-trick, can be competitive now she has her confidence up.