By Ray Hickson
Trainer Matt Smith has Group 1 ambitions for imported galloper Fierce Impact so there’s a bit riding on his first-up performance at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Japanese bred, former English five-year-old gave a glimpse of his potential in two Sydney starts in the autumn and Smith said he’s taken benefit from that initial preparation.
With designs on tackling the Group 1 mile during the Flemington carnival it’s safe to say Fierce Impact will need to be in the finish of the Gow-Gates Handicap (1400m).
“We’ve just got to get his rating up and get him in there now,’’ he said.
“I suppose 1400m first-up is going to be a bit of a test. That’s the only thing we don’t know but I’m sure he’ll run well and he’ll go to a mile two weeks after.’’
Perhaps Smith’s comments are a shade reserved given Fierce Impact did sprint very well fresh at 1300m at his Australian debut before a second-up win at 1400m at Randwick in May.
In winning that race the entire ran a race best last 600m of 34.27 and final 200m of 11.56 (Punters Intel).
Smith then pulled the pin on the preparation due to a spate of wet tracks at the time, preferring not to risk disrupting the horse’s rhythm if he proved to dislike the conditions.
“He’s improved a little bit in that he seems to be a bit more settled and overall I’m really happy with him,’’ Smith said.
“If we run into wet tracks this time in we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.’’
TAB has kept Fierce Impact safe on the $6 line for Saturday’s race on the back of two barrier trials.
Smith said the horse has done all that’s been asked of him in those trials, the latest a close second over 1050m to Golden Rose runner Tchaikovsky on September 13.
“We didn’t ask for a big effort in the first one and then the second one we asked him to run through the line and I thought he trialled well,’’ he said.
“He’s having a nice prep and is in good shape, I can’t fault him through the preparation. I’m sure a strong mile will suit him, beyond that I’m not sure how far he’ll run.’’
Fierce Impact finishes second in a Randwick trial on September 13
Fellow import Invictus Prince is all set for Saturday week’s Group 1 $1m TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m).
It’s not often a Group 1 race is used as a lead-up for a Group 3 but that’s pretty much the case with Invictus Prince whose goal is the $500,000 Craven Plate (2000m) on Everest Day, run just prior to the start of the Invictus Games in Sydney.
Smith is certain Invictus Prince will be very competitive in the Epsom on the back of a pleasing fifth in the Bill Ritchie last week and his career best Group 1 in the Winx Stakes.
“The way he is racing is a good sign because he’s come out of 2000m and 2400m races overseas,’’ he said.
“I think the mile at Randwick will be better then he’ll go to the Craven Plate and I think that will be his race provided Winx doesn’t go there.’’
Meanwhile talented mare Aqua D’Ivina has come through her first run since a colic attack, when a narrow second at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, bouncing and Smith is looking forward to stepping her up in distance next month.
“I was really happy with the result there. She hadn’t run for eight months so it was a nice effort from here first-up,’’ he said.