By Ray Hickson
Champion trainer Peter Snowden has a high opinion of French import George Patton but has stopped short of saying he expects the grey to make a winning Australian debut at Rosehill on Saturday despite being heavily backed when markets opened.
Put simply, Snowden said he’s found the right race in the Listed $150,000 Carrington Stakes (1400m) at the right trip with the right weight for the horse to fire.
It’s now up to George Patton to prove he’s capable of sprinting well fresh at his first start since June 2016.
“I thought one trial and good bit of work should have him in good order and leave a bit of freshness in him to see if he can sprint,’’ Snowden said.
“These overseas horses quite often do a lot of work and you don’t get a good guide as to whether they have a turn of foot or are dour pluggers.
“He works like a Group horse but I want to see it for myself in a race, see whether he wants further or can sprint fresh. These little questions I want to put to him and hopefully we get some answers.’’
Watch George Patton's eye-catching second in his Randwick trial
George Patton has only had the five starts to date. He won his first two at Deauville and at his fourth start narrowly missed a placing when fourth in the Group 1 Poule D’Essai (1600m) in May 2016.
He was sent to Hong Kong later that year and trialled twice in October 2016 but two months later was found to be lame in his right front leg. His troubles continued in early 2017 when he had a right shoulder stress fracture and then a right proximal radius (in a horse's lower leg) stress fracture in April and was retired from Hong Kong.
He wound up at Randwick with Team Snowden where he’s only been seen publicly once for an eye-catching second place behind Egyptian Symbol in a 1045m barrier trial at the end of December.
“He’s done a fair bit of work and I’m quite happy with his condition,’’ he said.
“It’s not a throw at the stumps, he looks an imposing type and is already proven at a good level but hasn’t raced for over 12 months.
“If you go to a benchmark race with 61kg you don’t get a good guide. I was looking for a seven furlong race, even though a Listed race is out of his grade he’d be down in the weights and it would give me a chance to get an idea how he measured up.’’
Punters quickly latched onto the presence of George Patton in the Carrington Stakes, and he firmed from $4.60 to $3.40 with TAB on Wednesday.
“They jumped out of trees to back him as soon as we opened the market up,” TAB’s Andrew Georgiou said.
“The $4.60 didn’t last very long at all. He is easily the best backed runner on the program at this very early stage.”
He’s currently a $51 chance in the market for the $3m Doncaster Mile.
The Carrington also sees the return of 2016 Victoria Derby winner Prized Icon and the talented Endless Drama, who ran third to Winx when resuming last campaign.
“It’s a good make up of nice horses and will give me a guide where he fits in the next two or three months,’’ Snowden said.
Here’s Peter Snowden’s comments on the rest of the stable’s runners on Saturday:
Prometheus (race 3): “There’s a lot to like about his win last start. We had high hopes for him early and he didn’t really measure up. We almost had him sold to Singapore and it fell through so we brought him back and gave him another crack.
“I’m glad we did, a bit more time under his belt he’s got a bit tougher. It’s a step up but drawn an outside gate is probably a good thing in case he steps slowly again.’’
The Pinnacle (race 6): “She’s a good mare, she showed a lot as a three-year-old and got to a good level. She only had one bad run at her last start, she’s had a good long spell and should come back a better mare for it.
“She has good fresh form but I would think she will be better when she gets to a mile plus.”
Moss Trip (race 6): “It was a slowly run race (at Kembla last start) and I thought she was too far out of her ground. She’s always been a mare that promised a lot, she’s a lot stronger this time in and it was good to see her win as well as she did first-up.’’
Emperor’s Way (race 8): “All his runs this time in have been good, they’ve been little steps and he’s meeting a better field again on Saturday. I’m confident he will run well.’’