By Ray Hickson
Meet the Strzelecki syndicate!
They’re a group of 14 punters from various parts of the state who hope to emulate their namesake, Paweł Strzelecki, and be the first to climb The Kosciuszko after securing the Rod Northam-trained After All That.
It was the seven-year-old’s slashing fourth in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick last Saturday that led the group, managed by Richard Lentfer, into his corner.
“We had a look at a few of them beforehand, initially we were drawn to a few of the favourites but after his race on Saturday and having a chat with Rod he came across well and was open to negotiation,’’ Lentfer said.
“We’re happy with where we landed with Rod and I think we are in with a live chance.’’
The field for the $1.3m The Kosciuszko is quickly taking shape with After All That joining Country Championships winner Victorem, Group winner The Monstar, Tamworth sprinter Suncraze and the Danny Williams pair Kopi Luwak and Don’t Give A Damn who have also secured deals.
Lentfer said the members of the Strzelecki syndicate threw in $50 each to purchase tickets following his home town Grafton Cup carnival this year.
After All That’s trainer Rod Northam, confident the gelding is going better than a year ago when he won the Anniversary Highway on Everest Day, said now he has his place confirmed he won’t have another run but will trial prior to October 13.
“He’s always been better this year leading into it. He ran fourth in the Country Cup at Scone and ran fourth in the Tamworth Cup but this year he won the Country Cup and ran second at Tamworth.
“I know he’s older but he’s just been an improving horse. Now this is out of the road we can focus on the race.’’
Country Championships winner Victorem was always going to be a popular choice and trainer Jenny Grahame said everything is on track for him to run first-up in The Kosciuszko.
The gelding joined Awesome Pluck, who Graham said there has been some interest in from slot owners, in a trial at Taree on Sunday and scored narrowly.
“He went super, the horse is coming along nicely,’’ she said.
“It takes a bit of pressure off knowing his spot is signed, sealed and delivered.’’
Victorem wins a barrier trial at Taree on Sunday
Goulburn trainer Danny Williams said both his confirmed runners Don’t Give A Damn and Kopi Luwak also won’t race prior to The Kosciuszko.
Williams made the decision to focus on the race with Don’t Give A Damn following his gallant sixth under 64kg at Rosehill earlier this month while Kopi Luwak will be on the comeback trail after he was forced to miss the Country Championships through injury.
“We’re over the moon they have been accepted,’’ Williams said.
“We’ve got Don’t Give A Damn entered for this Saturday at Rosehill and it looks a good race for him but in discussion with the owners I suggested if he got a run we would just focus on The Kosciuszko.
“He races very well fresh and for that reason he’s best going straight into it.’’
Kopi Luwak won the Goulburn heat of the Country Championships but missed the final due to bruised feet and an abscess but Williams said the flashy gelding is in A1 condition at present.
He had an 800m jump out on Monday morning and will likely have another at Mourya later this week before an official trial after the Moruya Showcase meeting on September 28.
“I worked him myself and he is coming along very quickly so I don’t think he will need a run,’’ he said.
“The beauty of him this preparation is he is very sound.’’
Care To Think, whose spot is expected to be confirmed soon, holds favouritism at $3.50 with TAB ahead of Victorem ($6), Don’t Give A Damn ($7), The Monstar ($8) and After All That at $9.