By Tony Megahey
Five-time TAB Highway Handicap winner Terry Robinson is weighing up his options for what he considers the toughest episode he has confronted at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
The Shoalhaven ace has accepted for the $60,000 class 3 1100m dash with rising mare Yama Magic, coming off resilient wins at Nowra and Goulburn, but may delay the return of his proven performer Grand Rouge until the upcoming country championships.
“This mare deserves an opportunity in town but I’m a realist, this is a strong a Highway as I’ve seen,” offered Robinson.
While six-time Highway winner Matthew Dunn hasn’t accepted with Eagle Farm and Doomben placegetter Magic Diamond, Matthew Dale, with five series successes, heads the betting markets with Moonee Valley winner Yasnat.
Recent Highway winners Danny Williams, and the Dryden and Collings team, also offer strong form lines with two runners apiece.
Dale’s flying Yasnat won at a Moonee Valley night meeting last preparation with a brilliant display of short course speed. She’s resuming from a five month spell but is certain to be tuned right up with the claim for Deanne Panya. Panya is noted for her success with front runners, and Yasnat, on her ‘Valley tearaway performance and barrier three, appears the certain leader.
Robinson, the only trainer to win Highway doubles with two gallopers, King’s Officer and Rose of Man, is acutely aware of the task.
“Our mare’s win at Nowra was really good, she sat three wide with no cover and finished off strong, but the form in Saturday’s race is obviously far stronger,” Robinson said. “We needed to draw inside. “There’s the Dale runner, and Danny William’s Pumpkin Pie is a real smart horse, but it doesn’t end there.”
Robinson has again engaged ACT rider Brendan Ward. “Brendan did a good job winning on her at Nowra and Goulburn, he’s her regular rider and understands the mare.”
The depth of talent has deterred Orange trainer Alison Smith, a recent Highway runner-up with Absolute Ripper.
“We’d nominated Missy Rhythmos off a good win up here, but this Highway is such a hot race. We’re going to a winnable race at Cowra instead,” she said.
“Those bigger stables are so hard to beat when they set them especially for a Highway, but that’s the racing business.”