By Ray Hickson
Champion trainer Peter Snowden knows a smart two-year-old when he gets his hands on one and is definitely not talking down the prospects of boom colt McLaren ahead of his debut at Rosehill on Saturday.
The youngster has already worked his way onto the fourth line of Golden Slipper betting with TAB at $15 which will seem luxurious if his trial performances translate into a win in the Group 3 $160,000 Canonbury Stakes (1100m).
“He’s still a little bit immature, but he does work like a good horse and in time I think he will be better than good,’’ Snowden said.
Vancouver (2015) is the last Slipper winner to take out the Canonbury.
No small part of the reason why McLaren is the $1.60 Canonbury favourite are his three trial wins but the latest was a very un-Snowden-like 6.8 length victory at Warwick Farm on January 22.
Sure it was only a 797m trial but he explained jockey James McDonald was instructed to simulate a race with the $380,000 Exceed And Excel colt.
“In his two trials prior he’s been coasting to the line,’’ Snowden said.
McLaren's easy trial win at Warwick Farm on January 22
“I wanted to see for myself under race conditions that he finds that gear that I see at home. I wanted to make sure when he was asked there was a response.
“I don’t do a lot of work with him and that was his last hard hitout before the race. He’s only a light horse but I want to make sure he is conditioned for 1100m first-up.’’
With the scratching of Godolphin’s Lanigera just six two-year-olds line up in the Canonbury but McLaren has to overcome the outside of the sextet.
Will he lead? Snowden is happy to leave that to McDonald but he doesn’t mind if the short term goal of a debut win comes before the long term goal of making him Slipper ready.
“James knows what he’s got underneath him, he’ll make the decision to lead or if something wants to go hard we have to teach the horse to settle as well,’’ he said.
Stablemate Mayaaseh carries much less public expectation than McLaren when she resumes in the Group 3 $160,000 Widden Stakes (1100m).
The filly ran third behind Catch Me in the Gimcrack Stakes in the spring and Snowden said she’s a talented horse who shouldn’t be underestimated.
“I thought she would beat Catch Me in their first start on their work,’’ he said.
“They both got into a bit of trouble, she got into a bit more than Catch Me, and for her to run third was good. She is quite forward and I expect her to run well.’’
Mayaaseh, $51 in the Slipper market and $7.50 on Saturday, pleased the Snowden stable with her first trial but needed some chiropractic work after the second trial.
“The second was a little disappointing but she did jar up that day for some reason. A couple of gallops since that trial have been good and I’m more than happy to think she will run well,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, dual Everest winner Redzel is due to kick off his autumn preparation with a barrier trial at Randwick on February 7