By Ray Hickson
An untimely foot abscess forced trainer Matthew Smith to change his autumn plans for promising mare Nimalee but he’s hoping it turns into a blessing in disguise at the business end of the carnival.
The four-year-old, an impressive first-up winner back on February 20, re-enters the carnival in the Group 2 $200,000 Canadian Club Emancipation Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday and Smith is confident she won’t let the side down.
“The market suggests she’s going to be right in it, the only query is the six weeks,’’ Smith said.
“She’s worked well, she’s done the work and we will see what happens.
“I think she has the ability, that’s for sure, she’s definitely an up and coming horse with above average ability. She’s already stakes placed, so we know she is pretty handy, so we’ll just see if she can take the next step.”
With the Group 1 $1m Coolmore Legacy (1600m) looming large in two weeks there’s every chance Nimalee could have ended up in the Emancipation on the way had the setback not occurred.
Nimalee wins a trial at Randwick on March 26
Smith had planned to run her in the Aspiration Quality (1600m) on March 6, won by Missybeel, and potentially back up in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) or go to last week’s Epona Stakes (1900m).
While Coolmore Classic winner Krone heads the Emancipation the race did lose its big drawcard when Arcadia Queen was spelled, opening the race up for a horse like Nimalee who showed she's back on track winning a trial at Randwick last week.
“It’s six weeks between runs now which is not ideal, we were going to go another path but when we scratched from the Aspiration, well, here we are,’’ Smith said.
“We had to give it a bit of time to get the infection out. You’ve got to be careful not to upset the sole of the foot when you’re trying to get it out otherwise you can set yourself back further.
“We had to wait a bit longer than we wanted but we’ve been able to continue with the preparation.
“You hate getting setbacks like that when you’re on a preparation towards good races. But she’s very genuine, she tries hard, she’s a nice mare.”
Nimalee was second favourite at $4.80 with TAB on Thursday and is $26 in the Coolmore Legacy.
Stayer Grey Lion makes his return in the Group 3 $160,000 ACY Securities Doncaster Prelude (1500m) and at $126 with TAB he’s not expected to make an impact.
Smith said the nine-year-old, who hasn’t raced since the Australia Day Cup in January, has puzzled him a little out at his Warwick Farm stable and concedes the race will be short of his best.
“It’ll be good to get a run under his belt,’’ he said.
“He is working well at home but I was a bit disappointed in his trial. He normally trials a lot sharper than that.”