By Ray Hickson
For the first time this spring everything seems to have fallen into place for talented mare Sweet Deal to hit paydirt in Saturday’s $1m The TAB Hunter (1300m) at Newcastle.
The six-year-old is one of two horses for trainer John Thompson, the other being Cuba, in the first of successive $1m features on provincial stand alone Saturdays and he’ll likely target the second with Purple Sector all but certain to head to Kembla Grange’s The Gong.
Sweet Deal did manage to win the Group 3 Toy Show first-up but she worked hard from wide gates in the Sheraco and Golden Pendant before striking a wet track in the Nivison and boxing on for fourth.
With a good track and favourable draw Thompson said it appears Sweet Deal will get her chance.
“You’d like to think so, she goes well at Newcastle,’’ he said.
“Even for her to run so well last time on the really heavy track you know she is going well because she normally doesn’t like it at all.
“We had to run there to have her right for the Hot Danish but that was wet as well. She just needs a little bit of luck in running and she will fight it out.”
Unlike in The Nivison, Thompson said Sweet Deal won’t be leading The Hunter but she will be on the speed somewhere.
“The owners want her ridden with cover this time, they’re adamant about that after her last start,’’ he said.
“There looks to be a bit of speed, my other horse will go forward and roll along. She will get a good speed and something to follow.”
While the scenario for Sweet Deal, $13 with TAB, appears ideal Thompson said stablemate Cuba isn’t necessarily disadvantaged having to jump from near the outside.
The gelding rebounded from a second-up failure when he held off Criaderas to win at Randwick three weeks ago and Thompson expects him to hold his form.
“Second-up, I don’t know he’s just bloody terrible. We tried to counteract it by taking him to Melbourne thinking that would spur him on but he went terrible,’’ he said.
“He bounced back and won super last start and has done very well between runs.
“He’s very tractable, he’s not one dimensional, he goes forward but he can sit outside the leader or one-one. He can get himself out of trouble and it puts your mind at ease when they can do that.”
It’s likely Cuba, $10 with TAB, will head to the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on November 28 then be freshened up for Magic Millions Cup in January.
Thompson said the rejuvenated Purple Sector has returned from his win at Flemington, following a short freshen up, and is likely to take his place in The Gong on Saturday week.
It seems gelding has really been the making of the five-year-old who posted a four length win over the Randwick mile second-up before his Listed success over 1800m on November 3.
Sweet Deal runs fourth in The Nivison at Randwick on October 24
“He had a freshen up in the paddock and came back on Wednesday,’’ he said.
“We worked him for the first time this morning (Thursday) and his normal rider said he feels amazing.”
Of his other runners at Newcastle, Thompson said he’s going back to the drawing board with Almerheri in the Bass Floor Handicap (1400m) after a second-up failure.
“We rode her quiet first-up and she ran well, second-up we tried to put her on speed but she choked down and stopped,’’ he said.
“So we have to ride her quiet and if she gets back to her best she will be competitive.”
And the same could apply if last start Goulburn Cup runner-up Chat takes his place in the Hunter Valley Premium Meats Handicap (1300m) given he’s drawn the outside alley but Thompson can’t fault his form this time in.
“I need to put a bit of thought into that one. We rode him quiet first-up and he won very well so it might be a chance to ride him quiet again. But he is going very well,’’ he said.