By Ray Hickson
There’s no faster way to find out where a young horse stands ahead of the spring than to pit her against the best and trainer Rick Worthington is doing just that with Steel Diamond.
It might seem a huge task for a filly coming off a Kembla Grange maiden win to tackle the boom three-year-old Libertini but Worthington is adamant she won’t disgrace in the Group 2 $200,000 Darley Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Steel Diamond already has some compelling form lines around her with a close third on debut behind Bivouac and Cosmic Force back in February and she was far from a furnished product then.
“When I look back on that now it was a good thing for her because it stood her in good stead this time in,’’ Worthington said.
“She’s a nice filly, I know it appears on the outside you’re throwing her to the wolves but I don’t think she is the roughest in the race.
“No one likes putting egg on their own face but I genuinely believe she deserves her chance.’’
Worthington’s intention after Steel Diamond’s debut was always to head straight to the paddock then aim up at a maiden for a confidence boosting start to her preparation.
The filly, a full sister to Everest hopeful Graff, delivered with an impressive win over 1000m at Kembla three weeks ago where she rounded up her rivals from last with a sharp turn of foot.
“Everything went against her and she stepped up,’’ Worthington said.
“I thought the win was better than it looked on the surface.
“She’s gone ahead since then, you could debate going through the grades and making it easier for her but they are only three-year-old fillies once.
“It’s a tough ask but she deserves a chance at it.’’
Punter’s Intelligence sectional data from Steel Diamond’s Kembla win shows she ran the fastest last 600m of the day, 32.44, and the fastest 400m-200m of the day, 10.50.
Steel Diamond was a $41 chance with TAB in the Silver Shadow with Libertini stifling the betting at $1.70.
The only other horses under double figures in the market are the Godolphin pair of Tenley ($5) and Flit ($4.60) though the vibe from trainer James Cummings is more of a ‘next time’ one than first-up.
Steel Diamond wins at Kembla Grange on August 3
However, Tenley does boast an unbeaten record on good tracks with her only failures coming in the Golden Slipper and Sires’ Produce on heavy ground.
“She’s had a solid preliminary and I’d like to think she can excel back on top of the ground,’’ Cummings said.
“She will be better off at the weights second-up in the Furious Stakes.”
Flit was narrowly beaten in the Group 2 Percy Sykes (1200m) during The Championships and is expected to be a bigger danger to Libertini as the distances increase through the Darley Princess Series.
“We sent her to the paddock early and she resumes here against horses with more tactical nous which will be challenging for her,’’ he said.
“Flit is burdened with the task of taking on horses like Libertini, who is a machine, but we expect there will be plenty of upside as her second racing campaign unfolds.”