By Ray Hickson
Trainer Jason Coyle is using the first half of winter to give promising fillies Spiritual Pursuit and River Bird the chance to announce themselves as carnival worthy for next season.
Both horses have attracted good support ahead of their respective events at Rosehill on Saturday with Spiritual Pursuit the clear $2.70 TAB favourite in the Living Turf Handicap (1100m).
Coyle said Spiritual Pursuit is a filly that is only now starting to put it all together and that was evident as she stretched the talented Baller back in February.
And River Bird, fresh from an overdue maiden win first-up, with form around Ljungberg and Reelem In Ruby, is more than up to the My Mate Tulvey’s Sprint (1200m).
“We bought Spiritual Pursuit back in this time of year to work her way through a couple of grades,’’ Coyle said.
“Last preparation she made that maturity level where she was physically strong enough and mentally ready to be competitive at the races.
“The form around her is good and she’s ready to take that next step to become a genuine Saturday horse and hopefully maybe a shade higher.
Spiritual Pursuit's latest trial at Rosehill on May 14
“River Bird is in at the right time to improve her benchmark so we can start planning for slightly better races.’’
Coyle expects jockey Kathy O’Hara to offset a wide alley quickly on Spiritual Pursuit and if that does happen then he says she’ll take plenty of running down.
“It’s a concern when horses underneath you can make you work but Kathy knows her well,’’ he said.
“She has that good gate speed so as long as everything pans out that first furlong she should be able to cruise across. Both trials were solid and what you’d expect from a horse with a high cruising speed.’’
The Warwick Farm trainer jokes that had River Bird ($8.50) been afforded any luck last preparation we wouldn’t be talking about her coming off a maiden win on Saturday.
River Bird shook off that maiden in impressive style, running the fastest last 600m of the day in 33.90 (Punter's Intelligence) at Wyong on May 16 at her first run since not disgracing herself in the Gosford Guineas.
“I’ve always had a high opinion of her so I’ve raced her outside of my normal pattern,’’ he said.
“She was unlucky not to win three maidens last time in but she was able to get that out of the road.’’
Comments from Jason Coyle on his other runners (with Valentino Rossa expected to be scratched).
Kawaikini (race 4, $8): “Two really impressive trials, she is one that does trial well but I thought you couldn’t ask a horse to trial better than she did. I think she’s forward enough to run a nice race and if there’s any chinks in the armour of the opposition you know she’ll be coming at them late.’’
Nicochet (race 6 , $14): “I was impressed with his trial, the plan was to come back at this time and he’s competitive in whatever he runs in. I’d expect a good solid performance from a nice gate with a view to getting up to a mile.’’