By Ray Hickson
Talented mare Lashes still has scope to move naturally through the grades but if she produces another stunning performance at Rosehill on Saturday trainer Matt Smith says there’ll be a case for targeting stakes races in the near future.
The four-year-old produced a devastating sprint sitting off a solid tempo when she resumed at Randwick two weeks ago and Smith wants to see her do it again in the Lou Cox Handicap (1100m) before raising the bar comes into play.
The scenario will be a different one for Lashes, however, as she’ll rise 3.5kg to carry top weight of 59kg and faces the likelihood of a rain affected track.
Smith said the mare reacted so well to how her first-up run unfolded they might have found her true calling.
“Maybe last time in being that bit closer in the run it mightn’t have suited and she was out of her comfort zone, especially those last couple where she didn’t finish it off,’’ Smith said.
“At the end of last prep I was a bit bemused with the way she was racing.
“We’ve tried to make a point of getting her to realise you don’t have to go flat out.
“When you have that natural speed in the race and plenty of horses that want to be up there it kind of helps.
“She might turn out to be better ridden that way. It might be simple as that, she was too close.''
Lashes opened a dominant favourite with TAB at $1.95 on the back of that easy first-up win and Jason Collett retains the ride.
As Smith alluded, Lashes was able to sit midfield and relax as the leaders Adelong and Spiritual Pursuit cut at each other.
She then reeled off a 34.32 last 600m (Punter's Intelligence), more than two lengths faster than her nearest rival, and was the only horse to break 12 seconds for the final 200m.
“The way the race was run the other day really helped her because the speed was on,’’ he said.
“It’s hard to judge on one run but she’s always looked above average.
“She got in well the other day with 55.5kg, the race is fairly similar I think so it comes down to getting the right run and being able to carry the weight.
“She’s drawn a good gate and I don’t see why she won’t be in the right spot. She’d be the sort of horse if she wins again you’d be looking at those 1200m stakes races for mares during the carnival.’’
Smith said Lashes has proven herself enough on rain affected ground for whatever is presented at Rosehill not to be an issue, especially with the fitness from the recent win.
Lashes wins at Randwick on January 4
A similar change of pattern could be thrust upon stablemate Tonsor when he resumes in the Bill Waterhouse Handicap (1100m), a race on paper that Smith says should be run in a manner that would make it tough for the six-year-old to overcome the outside alley.
Tonsor shot through the grades quickly last preparation winning three straight after a first-up second but Smith can’t see a situation where he’ll be able to race in the first few.
“I’ll most likely tell the stewards we’ll try to ride him conservatively,’’ he said.
“I’d rather let them go and get him started, get the run under his belt. The problem with my bloke is he has enough speed to get himself into a bad spot from that gate.’’
The market seems to agree that Tonsor is up against it, he’s a $26 chance, but Smith points out while he was unplaced at his last four runs he wasn’t ever beaten far.
“I don’t know how far he can climb but in the right races he will be competitive,’’ he said.
“Even in those later ones (last prep) where it says four, four, five he was beaten less than two lengths in every run. He’s a real trier.’’