By Ray Hickson
An unusual eye injury sidelined lightly raced three-year-old Armatree earlier this year and co-trainer Paul Snowden is hoping to make up for lost time when he resumes at Kensington on Wednesday.
There’s no doubt from Snowden that Armatree has some talent but his preparations have been so stop-start to date he’s been restricted to just three starts, the latest of them a fast-finishing third behind Private Eye back in mid-December.
Snowden said the horse was preparing to return in March, having won a trial, when an eye injury put him in hospital.
“He got an infection in his eye from sawdust,’’ he said.
“He was hospitalised, it was basically a fungus growing in his eye so we had to wait for that to heal.
“He lost a lot of racing, yes he has some ability but he has a lot of tricks as well.”
Armatree, now a gelding, tackles the Darley Supports Catwalk Handicap (1150m) at Kensington and he’s had the benefit of a closing second in a Hawkesbury barrier trial earlier this month.
Armatree runs second in a trial at Hawkesbury on July 19
Snowden said the gelding is capable of putting himself in the finish first-up but it’s basically up to the horse to do everything right. Armatree was $4.40 with TAB on Tuesday.
“He hasn’t changed one bit, he never will. He’ll do whatever he wants to do,’’ Snowden said.
“He’s a horse that we’ll take through the grades. We’re just glad to get him to the races and it’d be nice to get another two or three runs into him instead of one.”
The Snowden camp has been patient with another rising four-year-old Mount Fuji and he’ll strike favourable conditions in the Admire Mars at Arrowfield Handicap (1100m).
A $2.8 million yearling purchase, it’s fair to say the colt hasn’t yet lived up to expectation with his best result in three starts being a close second at Warwick Farm in December.
Mount Fuji, $2.70 favourite with TAB, has trialled three times with Snowden saying they’ve been waiting for a dry track and they’ve secured premier jockey James McDonald to ride the horse for a second time having been on board at his last start on January 22.
“James has ridden him before and has probably got the best out of the horse,’’ Snowden said.
“That’s a no-brainer. He hasn’t liked a wet surface in the past so there was no way known we were going to run him on a wet track again.”