By Ray Hickson
Trainer Matthew Smith says getting Tricky Gal to Group 1 level has been a testament to the mare’s toughness and whatever happens in Saturday’s $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) is a bonus.
The five-year-old has compiled an admirable record of six wins and eight placings from 18 starts and with Group placings at her past four she’s well and truly earned her shot at Rosehill’s time-honoured fillies and mares Group 1.
“She’s certainly gone to a new level at her last four runs but any of these Group races are hard to win,’’ Smith said.
“She tries hard, she’s thereabouts. We just need a bit of a change of luck.”
Glen Boss, who won the Coolmore in 2011 on Aloha, rides Tricky Gal for the second time in her career and looking back on the first time is an illustration of how far she’s come.
It was a Benchmark 78 race in June last year, she ran second behind Monegal on a heavy track but went to that new level when she returned in the spring.
“She always showed that above average ability and she was always quite tough which is what you need to be to compete at the next level up,’’ Smith said.
“I’ve always been confident she would take that step it was just a matter of letting her go through her grades and mature a bit.
“When she ran against Savatiano and went to Melbourne (in the spring) it was when she really started to come on in her work so we thought we’d have a go at it and see what happens.”
Tricky Gal was a $16 chance with TAB on Friday and that puts Smith at ease with his expectations for the Coolmore Classic.
But her two placings this time in, behind Tailleur in the Triscay (1200m) and Krone in the Guy Walter (1400m), tell the Warwick Farm trainer she’s in the fight – the past six Coolmore Classic winners have started $11 or greater so it’s one of those ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ races.
“From where we are drawn we need them to go really fast up front to give us a chance to get into the race,’’ he said.
“I’d like it the wetter the better for her but she will run a good race.”
It’s been 12 starts since Aqua D’Ivina figured in the finish of a race, that was her win at The Gong meeting in 2019 at Kembla Grange, but Smith is quietly confident a return to form is on the cards on Saturday.
The six-year-old, likely to head to the breeding barn next season, is a $51 chance with TAB in the Catanachs Handicap (1900m) but on what he’s seen on the training track Smith would suggest she’s a better chance than that.
It’s been a month since Aqua D’Ivina’s last start seventh, beaten over six lengths by Pandano, in a 1600m Benchmark 88 at Randwick.
“She actually worked really well on Tuesday, it was as good as she’s worked for a while,’’ Smith said.
Tricky Gal runs second at Randwick on February 27
“We mixed it up a bit with her, sent her out to the farm to give her a freshen up and it seems to have really helped her.
“She’s coming back in grade but she’s coming up against horses that are on the way through their grades. There’s probably two or three on the way up she could struggle against.
“She will run well and I think she will bounce back to a bit of form.”
Milk Man will be first-up in the Cellarbrations Handicap (1350m) and Smith said unless there’s a deluge overnight he’ll likely take the run to hit some form as he did last preparation.
“He prefers a bit of sting out of the ground and he prefers it a bit further,’’ he said.
“I’m sure he will run a solid race but they will be too sharp for him at 1350m unless he got a heavy track.”