By Ray Hickson
Third in 2016, second in 2017.
After coming as close as you can to holding off the booming finish of Chautuauqua in the last edition of the Group 1 $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick could 2018 be English’s year?
Co-trainer Adrian Bott has no doubt the five-year-old is racing as well as ever but after bumping into a champion twice in the nation’s premier weight-for-age sprint she faces another hurdle – running down Everest hero Redzel.
English is one of two runners from the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott team in the TJ, the other being dual Group 1 winner Global Glamour, but the shadow of Redzel looms large.
“English needs to run a career best on Saturday to be winning against a horse like Redzel who is such a tough consistent horse,’’ Bott said.
“But she is in good shape, she’s come through the Galaxy in good order and that showed she is right on track.’’
Bott concedes it’s not just Redzel that English needs to worry about in the TJ – though she did beat him in the Challenge Stakes last year – but also In Her Time, a horse she’s met on three occasions and is yet to hold a decision over.
Their latest meeting was in the Group 1 Galaxy (1100m) on Golden Slipper Day and Bott said while that race didn’t quite pan out as planned – she was slowly away first time in blinkers – it served as a perfect lead up to Saturday’s grand final.
Punters Intel revealed English clocked the fastest last 600m of the Galaxy, running 33.64 which included a stunning 11.01 from the 400m-200m and an 11.57 last 200m – on a soft track.
“Being an older mare, it has taken her one or two runs to reach her peak whereas as a younger horse she was a bit fresher first-up and had a bit more sprint in her legs,’’ he said.
“The last two years she’s been able to win the Challenge this year she’s showing she is looking for the 1200m now.
“She was half a length slow into stride but the blinkers had good effect, if she was going to make those mistakes it was good she did it in the Galaxy and hopefully she can make amends in the TJ.
English's first-up second to In Her Time in the Galaxy at Rosehill on March 24
“A genuine tempo is what she likes and she needs a bit of luck in running, with those horses that get back you need everything to go their way.’’
Stablemate Global Glamour comes into the TJ on the fresh side having not raced since her gallant second in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m).
The four-year-old was also very brave in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) three weeks earlier and Bott said those runs showed she’s at her best when able to lead.
“I thought it was an incredibly good run last start and it took a good horse to run her down in Happy Clapper,’’ he said.
“Taking a line through him she’s in great shape. We’ve freshened her up and she’s a natural speed mare.
“Her asset is her natural speed and high cruising speed. We’ve trained plenty of speed back into her legs because she was stretched out to 1400m.’’
English is an $11 chance in the TJ with TAB while Global Glamour is rated $15 behind the $2.30 favourite Redzel.