By Ray Hickson
It’s common to hear high priced yearlings talked up prior to their debut but the way jockey Tommy Berry speaks about the appropriately named Spend suggests we could see something special at Rosehill on Saturday.
The $1.55m Snitzel colt is yet another potential off-season find for Team Hawkes – though he was meant to debut during The Championships – in the vein of Diplomatico last season and more recently the boom colt Exceedance who has provided a measuring stick this season.
And Berry’s comments reveal Spend tackles the Everest Carnival Handicap (1100m) with plenty expected of him.
“He’s got a reputation as one of our better young horses coming through,’’ Berry said.
“He’s taken a little bit of time to mature but he’s ready to go now. I think Exceedance is the benchmark and this bloke might not be too far off him.’’
That probably explains why Spend opened $6 with TAB and quickly made his way to $2.80.
The colt beat the likes of Creator and Group 1 placed Reloaded in his two trials back in March and was nominated for the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes on Day 1 of The Championships.
What we haven’t seen from Spend is a recent official trial as he missed his scheduled hitout when the Rosehill trials were washed out last Friday but Berry said the Hawkes stable has been able to compensate.
“You know the Hawkes stable don’t rush their young horses and this fellow has had a couple of preparations without having a start,’’ he said.
“He’s had plenty of trials and jump outs at home. He’s a no-nonsense colt with a great attitude who loves his work and doesn’t give you any trouble.
“I haven’t ridden him in his jump outs but have been on in a couple of gallops this preparation and he’s come back in great order.’’
Berry said he always approaches a Hawkes-trained first starter with confidence as he knows they are usually ready to go on race day.
As for where he expects Spend to race he said the stable rarely, if ever, give him instructions and he’ll assess things when the gates open – but has seen enough to be confident he can ride the colt anywhere.
“In his trials he’s shown speed and if there is speed he relaxes well,’’ he said.
“He’s one of those horses you can put wherever you like and be confident he will finish well. If he was to jump and showed the speed to put himself there so be it but if he wants to balance up I know he has the turn of foot.
“I don’t think there have been many easy two-year-old races this season. There’s a few nice triallers and a few last start winners, it should be a competitive race and he will want to be close to his best to beat them.’’
The last time we saw Spend in a Rosehill trial on March 26
Among his other rides at Rosehill, Berry said the track will need to improve for Godolphin galloper Wagner to be a factor in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1200m).
The gelding downed Spiritual Pursuit on a good track two starts ago but spun the wheels when running eighth behind Top Striker on June 29.
“If it’s a heavy 9 again I’m not sure he’d even run and if he did I’d be wary of that,’’ Berry said.
“He travelled really well for me in the run but once I asked him to sprint he struggled to get through the going. He didn’t drop out or throw it away but he just couldn’t let down.’’
And on the Hawkes-trained Firsthand he said he’ll be relying on plenty of luck from a wide alley if he’s to turn the tables on Gaulois and win the Listed $150,000 Winter Stakes (1400m).
“A few speed horses drawn around him might be able to bring us across. He’s in good form, he needs things to go right for him to get the job done,’’ he said.
Both Wagner and Firsthand are $6 chances with TAB in their respective races.