By Tony Megahey
Successive scratchings from winnable city races is the strongest push possible for Kurt Goldman’s talented topweight Equal Balance in the Royal Randwick TAB $75,000 Highway Handicap on Saturday.
The Group-winning Goulburn trainer withdrew Equal Balance from Canterbury Park on Wednesday and a Highway at headquarters last Saturday, to focus on a Class 3, 1000m dash this Saturday. And likely bigger occasions with all the incentive possible for country trainers on a fabulous day of racing at the historic track.
Goldman and all the strongest regional stables are striving to amass the form and public punter’s confidence to secure a slot in the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko to be run on October 13 coinciding with The Everest.
And, of course, to be trackside for the charisma and theatre surrounding the incomparable Winx on her way to a fourth Cox Plate, can provide lifetime racing memories.
“The Kosciuszko obviously is the aim; we’re happy with him and we’re hoping for the track to dry out a little on Saturday,” Kurt offered.
“Not that he can’t handle a soft track, he’s just a better horse on firmer going.
“We’re drawn wide but not overly concerned. He can balance up out there, and he’ll be suited with the pressure on up front. He’s weighted as the best horse in the race, so hopefully, it’ll work out.
“I haven’t had the chance just yet to go through the form and speed map but we’ll work that out later. I’ll also make a decision late in the week on our other acceptor Missed Out. “
Equal Balance, a three–time winning Hinchinbrook gelding, was an unlucky second to talented Common Purpose in a Rosehill Gardens episode three weeks ago and was considered promising enough by Goldman to winter in Brisbane and contest the Listed Daybreak Lover Sprint.
The 62kg impost for the four-year-old will again be reduced by the 2.5kg claim for New Zealand apprentice Sam Weatherley who has thrived with the support and confidence of the Chris Waller stable.
However, the negative in the short course dash is another wide draw for the combination after they powered home from rearward to be beaten in a photo by John Bateman’s Common Purpose who completed a hat-trick. Likely Equal Balance, not a noted speedster, again will rely on a space and big finish off a fast and pressured tempo.
Goldman also accepted with dual race winner Missed Out who finished a creditable fourth to Matt Dunn’s Lifesaver in a Rosehill Gardens episode on August 11 and was then runner-up on the synthetic at the ACT.
Nick Olive’s Rhyming Puppet travels to headquarters on a three-race winning ACT streak and under similar circumstances as Equal Balance. Rhyming Puppet was also scratched after drawing the extreme outside in last week’s TAB Highway.
Meanwhile, a value runner is Tash Burleigh’s Japanese import Bocelli who was a heavily-backed favourite but didn’t see out 1400m on a soft track at Rosehill Gardens in early July.
“He’s come back fantastic; jumped out nicely and fresh at 1000m is ideal,” Tash enthused. “He’s a different horse. “He was inexperienced at travelling and it was a really hairy trip away for us last time.
“But he’s far more settled and mature. We’ve drawn perfectly and Corey Brown sticking is a bonus. Like everybody, we’re hoping and ready for The Kosciuszko if he runs well enough to interest a slot holder.
“But aside from all of that, trackside for Winx will be amazing - so exciting. She’s just a once in a lifetime. I was trackside to see Black Caviar race at Moonee Valley and the atmosphere and crowd noise was incredible. Just privileged and unforgettable to be part of it. “