By Ray Hickson
Trainer Keith Dryden believes now is the time to get experimental with Kosciuszko winner Handle The Truth who will wind up a successful spring at Rosehill on Saturday.
The four-year-old’s versatility will be tested in the Listed $140,000 Drinkwise Starlight Stakes (1100m) with a 300m drop in distance, the step up to stakes company, a gear change designed to make him more courageous and a potential tweak to his racing pattern.
“Now is the time because he’s going to the paddock and it’s all about next preparation,’’ Dryden said.
“We’d like to be back for the autumn carnival then go to Brisbane for the winter.
“I didn’t want to go to the 1500m of the Festival because I’m not 100 per cent sure how far he will travel, and I’m still looking after the horse, but I wanted to test him against the better horses.
“I’m no tyre kicker, if he didn’t measure up I’m not putting him on a float to Queensland to race (next prep) if he’s going to struggle.’’
Handle The Truth followed his Kosciuszko win with a game second in the Goulburn Cup, going down by half a length to Quackerjack who last weekend narrowly failed to claim the inaugural $1m The Gong.
Dryden said on the advice of jockey Blaike McDougall he’s removing the pacifiers from the gelding as the rider was adamant it cost him the Goulburn Cup.
“I learned he can run 1400m in that race, I thought he ran that really well,’’ he said.
“Blaike has been at me for a while to take the pacifiers off him because he tends to not want to go between horses. He said he’s sure if he had got on the outside (at Goulburn) he would have won.
“He was hesitant to go through until the horse on the inside dropped off. If you don’t do it you’ll never know and we’ll see how he goes with that.’’
Handle The Truth has won three of his four starts at Rosehill and first two wins came at 1000m in the country but he’s only had the one start at 1100m in a Highway early in his career, finishing fourth after racing wide.
The gelding, a solid $2.90 Starlight favourite with TAB on Wednesday, generally settles in the first four in his races and Dryden said coming back to 1100m might allow him to settle that extra pair back and finish off.
“It’ll be up to Nash (Rawiller) but if he settled back fifth, sixth, seventh and finished off hard you know he’s not one dimensional,’’ he said.
“Jumping and being there on the bunny running second all the time isn’t a bad thing but if I can settle him down and he doesn’t race as keen he might finish off that bit better.
“Not that it’s been bad but I’m searching for that little improvement.’’
Handle The Truth runs second in the Goulburn Cup on November 3
Meanwhile, Dryden is hoping Heaven On Earth can back up her upset Canterbury win from two weeks ago in Friday night’s $80,000 Kia Evening Star (1250m).
The mare was aided by a strong tempo and dashed up her last 200m in 11.66 (Punter's Intelligence) to post her fifth career win and Dryden said he’d like Tommy Berry to replicate that effort in a tougher race.
“The race fell into her hands the other night with so much pace on,’’ Dryden said.
“Unless you have a champion, horses can only sprint for a certain distance. A prime example is little Heaven On Earth, she has about a 450m sprint on her. If they take off a bit before the 600m she dies on her run about 100m out.
“The one thing about her, Tommy said the same thing, is she’s never run a bad race for us. I’m sure if there’s a bit of pace on and she gets a smother she will be an each-way chance.’’