By Ray Hickson
Lightly raced gelding Tonsor was a late starter to racing but trainer Matthew Smith says he can take another step up the ladder at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Tonsor, a rising six-year-old, didn’t have his first start until May last year but he’s making up for lost time winning three of his six starts to date.
While Smith is keen to test out his distance limits he said the TAB Rewards Handicap (1200m) fits in nicely with what lies ahead.
“I reckon his best racing is ahead of him,’’ Smith said.
“He’s the horse that has the upside for sure, and I’m sure he will be better when he gets to 1400m.
“He’s a much more relaxed horse this prep, once we work out his distance range we can come up with a plan for him.’’
Tonsor has already proven himself at 1400m, in lesser company, and while he led all the way to win the Canterbury Sprint Series Final (1200m) second-up last month, his first city win, Smith is confident he’s not one dimensional.
He’s $3.50 favourite with TAB and James McDonald will once again ride.
“We’d like to ride him a bit quieter than we have been to see how far he can run,’’ he said.
“He improved between runs and has continued to do well. He looks great and his work has been good, I can’t fault him.
“After this race we’ll go to a Saturday Benchmark race but I think it’s an even race and he’ll need to do everything right to win.’’
Smith is forecasting improvement from stablemate Catmosphere in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1400m) and warns his two runs back are no guide to his chances.
The gelding is at $61 after running seventh over 1100m in both recent starts.
“We’ve had to run him in a couple of unsuitable races to get his campaign started,’’ he said.
“This is a more suitable race and up to a better distance I think he will bounce back to form.
“Somewhere in the 1200m-1400m range is his go, he’s probably a bit one dimensional but he should run a good race.’’
Summer Cup winner Fierce Impact kicks off his autumn campaign at Rosehill on Saturday with the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) the likely target.
The import will tackle the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) and Smith said the distance is ideal first-up and will ensure he performs to his best.
Tonsor wins at Canterbury on February 22
“I’m happy with where he’s up to, he’s come back in good order,’’ he said.
“Anywhere around the trip is ideal then he’ll be looking for the mile second-up. After that we’ll make a decision about going to 2000m.
“There are options for him, we’d like to run in the Doncaster if we can get him in.’’
Meanwhile, the Sydney Cup is off the agenda for Smith’s new German import Sweet Thomas after he was forced to take a later flight to Australia and come in via Melbourne.
The seven-year-old will land on March 28 and serve two weeks quarantine in Victoria before Smith assesses whether he’ll have a run or wait for a spring campaign.
“He won the German St Leger, he’s an older horse so we were able to get him for the right price,’’ he said.
“His last four runs have been fantastic, he’s gone to another level and there’s no doubt he will run two miles.’’