By Ray Hickson
Trainer Jason Coyle is wary that a change of plan with Spiritual Pursuit could leave her vulnerable at Randwick on Saturday but is looking for a reason to put her away for the spring.
The three-year-old will be second-up after a luckless second at Rosehill on June 1 where she was trapped wide while setting the speed and was run down by Wagner.
Coyle scratched her due to a wide gate last Saturday – the race won by stablemate River Bird – and the Tab.com.au Handicap (1000m) is very much a Plan B.
“The plan was to stay at 1100m so whenever you change plans you’re going to be a little hesitant,’’ Coyle said.
“She went super first-up, barriers make a difference under those circumstances and they really did. If I was going to be reserved it’s because we are going back to the 1000m.
“But if she can go close we can figure out whether we look for better races in the spring or continue on with this preparation.’’
Spiritual Pursuit, warm favourite with TAB at $2.30 on Thursday, has come up with a gate that Coyle says gives her every chance to atone.
But again he’s wary that coming back to 1000m could turn that perfect gate into a tricky one and he points out that a Canterbury heavy 8 win in her form is a different reference to a Randwick heavy 8.
Spiritual Pursuit's brave second at Rosehill on June 1
“There’s obviously a lot of horses that go quite fast, you don’t want to be burnt out trying to hold a position,’’ he said.
“I think she will handle the sting out and it looks a nice race for her to run well again. Canterbury proved on Wednesday it’s just outstanding, a lot of other tracks are a fair way behind when it comes to wet weather.
“Hopefully those little things against her aren’t going to matter.’’
Stablemate Kawaikini is also second-up in the Moet & Chandon Grand Day Celebration Handicap (1200m) after a solid fifth behind Passage Of Time three weeks ago.
The mare clocked the second fastest last 600m of the race (34.42 Punter’s Intelligence) with the race being on pace dominated.
Coyle said she’ll be fitter but is still 50-50 about her wet track ability – she’s placed twice at Warwick Farm on heavy 10s and has a fourth at Randwick on a heavy 8 to her name.
“I’d love to see the track improve a couple of grades but whether that happens I’m not sure,’’ he said.
“At this time of year when the rain comes you can’t be back in your box. Her form says she handles it okay.
“She really attacked the line first-up and she had improvement in her. Talking to Kathy (O’Hara) after and if she’d had it again she would have poked up on the fence and she’d finish a bit closer.’’
Kawaikini started $8.50 first-up in a Benchmark 88 and is $16 with TAB in Saturday’s Benchmark 78 race.