Hawkesbury trainer Jason Attard says staying prospect As I Do is in a “very winnable race” at home on Thursday, and victory by the mare would give him special satisfaction to build on a long-standing association he has enjoyed with her owners, the Sydney-based Freeman family.
Attard is looking to clinch a second win with Casino Prince four-year-old As I Do, who has started only three times for the stable. Jay Ford rides her in the Clarendon Tavern Benchmark 60 Handicap (2100m).
“I broke in Arabian endurance horses for the Freemans for about 15 years, and never knew they also had racehorses,” Attard explained this morning. “They had a mare (Senorita De Vega) who hadn’t raced and was a problem child and, because of our association, asked me last year if I would try to get her going.“She had a few behavioural problems and was actually a late scratching from the barrier when she was due to have her first start for me.
"Senorita De Vega then debuted at Newcastle in March and ran third to her stablemate Lady Veronique in a 1400m Maiden before winning a similar race at the same track 12 days later at an ATC meeting.
“We put her out to allow her more time to mature, but unfortunately she injured herself and had to be retired. Senorita De Vega gave me an introduction to the Freeman’s racing side.
"They then asked me earlier this year to train Raise The Limit (also by Casino Prince), and we have so far managed three placings with her, including one in town.
“They apparently liked our training set-up and the way we go about things, and I now have half a dozen or so horses for them.”
Attard brought off a splendid training performance to score first-up with As I Do over 1600m at Nowra on October 3 after giving her three preparatory trials, and she has since twice raced well on her home track in stronger class, the latest when third to Concessions in a Class 4 Handicap (2100m) on November 9.
“She goes up in weight for a drop back in grade, but has done well since the last run,” he said. “As I Do is definitely a stayer and I feel will handle up to 2400m. I’m very happy with her and she has the inside alley in what is certainly a very winnable race.”
Attard also runs Hinchman (apprentice Jean Van Overmeire) and Prodigy (Ford) in the Irresistible Pools and Spas Provincial & Country Maiden (1300m). He withdrew the latter from the Pink Tie Ball March 24 Maiden (1300m).
“I felt the Provincial & Country Maiden was the easier option for Prodigy, who is resuming and will come into his own when he gets over more ground,” Attard said. “Hinchman is a quirky character who has ability. He ran below his best at Newcastle last start, and can bounce back provided he decides to put in his best tomorrow.”
One of As I Do’s rivals will be another local, the Jamie Thomsen-trained Night Time Lover. Van Overmeire’s 2kg claim will lessen her weight to 52kg; 6kg below As I Do. A six-year-old by Venice Beach, Night Time Lover carried 62kg to win over 1600m at the Gosford picnics on Melbourne Cup day (November 7).
Thomsen gave some thought to starting the gelding instead in Friday’s Bong Bong Cup (1560m), but opted to stay at home.
“I realise this is a tougher test, but Night Time Lover is really fit and the 2100m suits him more than the Bong Bong distance,” Thomsen said. “The Hawkesbury race will give us a better idea of where we are going with him.”
Thomsen had hoped to give Hawkesbury trackwork rider Michael Wade a winning picnic debut on Night Time Lover at Gosford, but his licence had not been approved. Wade will begin a new picnic career at the annual Bong Bong Cup meeting, where co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will start topweight Multitude (72kg) in the feature event.
The rail is in the TRUE position for tomorrow’s meeting. The track this morning was rated a Good 4 with a penetrometer reading of 4.94. Some 18mm of irrigation has been put on the track in the past week (nil in the last 24hours). Hawkesbury has received only 2mm of rain in the past week (1mm in the last 24 hours).
RACE 1: GRACIOUSNESS, Regal Rage, On Angels Wings.
RACE 2: VALIANT MATE, Yeas and Nays, Sleepwalker.
RACE 3: FLEUR, Soothing, Wooshka.
RACE 4: ALERT OF MONACO, Mo The Great, Sun And Heir.
RACE 5: NATHULA, Lucky Hada, Auerbach.
RACE 6: DAWN DAWN, Lope De Lope, Excelamour.
RACE 7: FOREVER DREAM, Emperor’s Way, Gravitate.
RACE 8: AS I DO, Capeabeel, Happy Partner.
SPECIALS: DAWN DAWN, GRACIOUSNESS, FLEUR