By Ray Hickson
John Thompson is happy to hand Golden Slipper winner Farnan the mantle of the superior two-year-old of his generation but can’t wait to see what his colt Mamaragan can produce this spring.
The Randwick trainer will have to wait a couple of weeks to measure Mamaragan, who ran third in the Slipper at just his second race start, up against Farnan again but he’s expecting some kind of statement to be made in Saturday’s Group 3 $160,000 TAB San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill.
Mamaragan pushed Farnan to a half length margin when they clashed in a trial on August 14, Farnan has since won a second trial, and that confirmed to Thompson he’s on the up.
“Farnan is the benchmark and going on his trials he seems to have come back well,’’ Thompson said.
“I thought those two were a standout in their trial and it was against older horses.
“We haven’t been too far behind him each time and I think that’s the right form line to have coming into these races.
“I don’t think the penny has dropped with my horse, the best of him is ahead and as a rule, everyone knows me, my horses improve with racing. I think he will be no different.’’
Thompson said Mamaragan was a little backwards when it came to maturity so to win a Skyline Stakes on debut then place in a Golden Slipper and Sires’ Produce speaks volumes for his potential.
“He’s shown us as much promise as you’d like,’’ he said.
“The impressive thing was how well he did last time in when he was so immature.
“He could be anything, really, it’s just a matter of how much he steps up. From the two-year-old year to the three-year-old year some horse improve, some don’t, some go backwards.
“All indications in his trials and at home are that he’s come on.”
Like all the top three-year-olds the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) is the early aim for Mamaragan and Thompson has never ruled out a crack at the TAB Everest if he proves a superior colt and earns a slot.
He’ll clash with Farnan, King’s Legacy and Rothfire in the Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) on September 12 and that race will go a long way to sorting out who has come back better this spring.
One thing Thompson is excited about is getting Mamaragan back onto a good track – the same conditions he met in winning the Skyline back at the end of February.
He was a $4 chance early with TAB in an intriguing San Domenico where he’ll clash with the unbeaten Peltzer ($3.90) and Doubtland ($4) and impressive Rosebud winner Anders ($2.90).
“The Sires’ and his trials were on heavy tracks so it’ll be good to see him back on top of the ground,’’ he said.
“His work going into the trials were on wet grass and he went well, on Tuesday he had a gallop on a dry course proper and the difference in his turn of foot was very noticeable.”
Mamaragan runs second in a trial at Kensington on August 14
Away from Mamaragan, Thompson said stayer Etheridge is in good shape going into the Schweppes Handicap (2000m) with just 52kg after four weeks since her second-up run, a fifth behind Fulmina at Randwick, where she made ground from well back.
It was very heavy ground in that 1800m race so fast sectionals weren’t the order of the day but Etheridge did run the second fastest last 600m (40.15) of the race.
“Her run last start was good and although it’s been a few weeks between runs we’ve been waiting for the right race,’’ Thompson said.
“She had a trial to keep her fitness up and she will run well, she’ll appreciate getting back on top of the ground.
“She’s a real genuine stayer, a 2400m horse, that’s looking for ground. She’s somewhat fresh with that time between runs and I think she goes better with that space.”
Etheridge was $16 with TAB on Wednesday and has also accepted for a Benchmark 68 over 2100m at Wyong on Sunday.