By Ray Hickson
Co-trainer Sam Freedman is more than comfortable with Realm Of Flowers’ place at the top of betting for the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) and can’t wait for the mare to get back to two miles at Royal Randwick.
Realm Of Flowers assumed Cup favouritism at $6 with TAB after her luckless second in last Saturday’s Manion Cup (2400m) and while Freedman, who trains with his father Anthony, would have preferred a win the performance exemplified the change in the mare this season.
Punter’s Intelligence data revealed the four-year-old, who raced wide throughout, covered an extra 13.1m compared to Manion Cup winner Favorite Moon in the run and went down narrowly - that’s something she wouldn’t have been able to do 12 months ago.
“She was always a bit immature, even as a three-year-old, physically, she was just a bit wiry and a bit frail,’’ Freedman said.
“Now she’s holding her condition well, she’s stronger.
“Damien (Thornton) has ridden her through her career and he feels she’s probably a seven or eight length better horse than she was as a late three-year-old.”
Favorite Moon downs Realm Of Flowers at Rosehill
Back in the spring Realm Of Flowers ran a close second in the Listed Sandown Cup at her first attempt at 3200m and on Day 2 of The Star Championships on April 17 she’ll chase her first win since the SA Fillies Classic last May.
Freedman said with 50kg in the Sydney Cup there's a sense of timing about Realm Of Flowers and the three weeks between runs into Randwick will be perfect.
“Touch wood she comes through it really well and we come back for the Sydney Cup and she should run a big race with no weight,’’ he said.
“She should have won, she didn’t have any luck but she’s low flying and in career best form.
“A win would have been perfect but she’s very versatile, she handles all going, she’s very tough and consistent.
“She runs the trip, she’d run further than two miles, Damien said it took a fair while to pull her up.”
Favorite Moon’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy was impressed with the lightly raced import’s performance and said he feels like 3200m will only be a plus.
The four-year-old’s two previous wins in the UK were at 2816m and 2817m and the Manion Cup was his first run since October 9.
“He had a willing attitude to pick up and get into contention,’’ McEvoy said.
“He’s one of those horses that’s been chipping away under the radar over there and hasn’t annihilated his rating which is probably a good reason to bring him out here.”