By Ray Hickson
It’s amazing how far a horse can take you.
This time last year Gosford trainer Angela Davies was just hoping to win a Saturday race with Through The Cracks.
On Saturday the six-year-old, the 2020 Provincial Championships winner, is one of the favourites for the Group 2 $250,000 The Agency Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick and a win away from a guaranteed start in a Group 1 Doncaster Mile worth $3 million.
“He’s crept up on us and the journey we’ve been on has been surprising,’’ Davies said.
“Twelve months ago I wouldn’t have thought we’d be lining up in a Villiers.
“I thought he was going to be handy, I thought he’d be a Saturday horse. A Villiers wasn’t on my radar at all.”
Through The Cracks started the year with a 68 rating, he won a midweek race at Warwick Farm in late January before Davies set him on the Provincial Championships path.
Of course he won the Final and after a second-up win at Newcastle’s Hunter meeting last month Davies decided to test the water in the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
He started a well supported favourite, after settling near last off a wide gate, and despite clocking the fastest last 600m of the race 33.78 (Punter’s Intelligence) couldn’t make up the ground and finished seventh. But it told Davies he is Villiers material.
“The track was going to work against him, especially from that gate,’’ she said.
“I had no expectations of him except hoping he was going to run a good race. The way the track was playing and the barrier draw all worked against him so I was delighted with the performance all things considered.
“He’s up to it, he was hitting the line at the right end. He hasn’t raced over a mile yet so all things were encouraging going into Saturday.”
Davies said Through The Cracks, $5 favourite with TAB on Thursday, has come through the Festival well and will turn up at Randwick weighing in at around 488kg, the same weight as Provincial Championships day.
Unlike in the Festival, the gelding has drawn a barrier that Davies said should allow him to be that pair or so closer in the run but she’ll impress on new jockey Brenton Avdulla what quirks he should be aware of.
“I would hate to start changing his pattern of racing. You’ve just got to be careful you don’t end up riding him out of his comfort zone,’’ she said.
“Ideally I would hoping there would be a couple of pairs behind us instead of being in the last pair.
“You’ve got to keep at him from the 600m, don’t give up, a lot of the boys have said if you didn’t tell me I have to ride the ears off him they would have given up. You’ve got to keep asking him to go through his gears until he hits his top.”
And what about the carrot of, if he wins, an exemption into the greatest mile on turf in Australia?
“He’s entitled to have a crack at it,’’ Davies said.
Through The Cracks runs seventh at Rosehill on November 28
Meanwhile, Davies said she’s looking forward to seeing how promising mare Salina Dreaming measures up in the Easternbuilt Handicap (1100m).
The four-year-old has won three of her six starts and Davies said her record last preparation could have been even better had she not struck a couple of heavy tracks at Gosford in early winter.
“She really never handled those wet tracks, when we got her back on top of the ground at Newcastle she was dominant,’’ she said.
The mare is a $12 chance with TAB but Davies seems bullish about the potential she has to develop into a Saturday class horse at least.
“She’s a mare on the up. She had feet problems and it has taken me a long time to sort her feet out,’’ she said.
“She’s come right at the right time. I think she will get a bit further, I may be able to stretch her out to 1400m, and if she can she will be very handy.”