By Ray Hickson
It’s not lost on jockey Brenton Avdulla the job that's ahead of Lion’s Roar as he comes out of his Australian Derby placing to tackle the Group 3 $160,000 ACY Securities Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
In fact history says rising in trip from the Carbine Club Stakes over a mile and not coming back from the 2400m Derby is the preferred, and more successful, lead up but Avdulla takes confidence from trainer John O’Shea electing to press on with the gelding’s autumn.
“It’s not going to be an easy task, running in a Derby then back to the 2000m isn’t easy to do,’’ Avdulla said.
“What’s in his favour is it wasn’t a testing run Derby. There is that little bit of unknown the mile and a half back but I think 2000m is his pet trip, it’s just a matter of how much the mile and a half back to it takes the edge off him.”
Two years ago The Chosen One ran fourth in the Derby before winning the Packer Plate and then you go right back to 2003 when Clangalang won both races, that illustrates it's not a simple task.
Lion’s Roar has raced just three times on his home track, all at Group 1 level, for his Randwick Guineas win in March, a second in the Spring Champion Stakes in October and his Derby third placing.
Avdulla, who won the Frank Packer Plate in 2017 on Mongolian Wolf, said aside from coming back 400m the return to a good track is in his favour and he can only expect him to put in as he’s done all preparation.
“He ran huge (in the Derby), he gave me a lovely ride and presented to win the race,’’ he said.
“He got past the winner about 300m out and the winner probably just outstayed him. He’s better on top of the ground, he accelerates better and his two peak performances before that were in the Spring Champion and Randwick Guineas on firm decks.
“If John has decided to run him here the horse has obviously pulled through all right, I haven’t seen him at all, and if he gets there in good order he’ll be hard to beat.”
As for how Lion’s Roar is likely to be ridden Avdulla said, having not spoken to O’Shea about it yet, he’s not likely to change a formula on the $1.95 favourite (with TAB on Thursday) that’s been fruitful so far.
“I’ll come up with a plan with John how to ride him but he’s been effective ridden comfortable in his races to finish I can’t see why we wouldn’t do that again,’’ he said.
Avdulla will be chasing his ninth career Group 1 with rides on Gin Martini in the $500,000 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) and Kolding in the $600,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m).
He partnered John Sargent’s filly Gin Martini to a narrow defeat at her second race start but wasn’t on board in her fast finishing third in the Group 3 Schweppervescence (1400m) three weeks ago.
“The 1600m will suit her, she’s still very raw in everything she does but I thought her last start was a good effort behind Converge and Saif and if she steps up from that she’ll improve getting to the mile,’’ he said.
Lion's Roar runs third in the Australian Derby at Randwick on April 10
“I think in six or 12 months you will see the best of her, I think she will develop into a lovely staying filly. She’s still a maiden but she’s showing nice ability and deserves a shot at it.”
Kolding has had nine different riders in his 29 starts to date and at start 30 Avdulla becomes the tenth to try their luck and the timing may be right in the All Aged.
The five-year-old, the inaugural Golden Eagle winner, hasn’t seen a good track since his last wins back in the spring and Avdulla said the All Aged appears to have a suitable set up for him.
“He’s obviously a talented Group 1 performer,’’ he said.
“He loves firm decks and I think Randwick suits him, he’s drawn to get a lovely run and I think his form has been okay for a race like this.”