By Greg Prichard
Big Brett Cavanough isn't shy about displaying confidence when he believes he's got a horse that warrants it and the Scone trainer doesn't try to contain his enthusiasm about the work of favourite It's Me heading into the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko at Randwick on Saturday.
Asked how the $3 shot with TAB fixed odds betting was tracking towards the 1200-metre race, the former sheep-shearing champion turned champion country trainer replied: "Perfect".
"She had a solid gallop last Saturday morning. If I hadn't recorded it on the GPS and told you how she worked, you would've tried to get me locked up in a unit somewhere I'd say.
"I mentioned to a couple of blokes on Saturday morning, we had her working a solid half-mile and it was just crazy, you know.
"She's nearly replicating what she's been doing on race days in her work now.
"Rowena (Dillon, It's Me's handler) rode her and she was on the bridle, but she had a good, solid gallop and a clean-out and Rowena came back saying she wouldn't blow a candle out. Pulled up fit, ran time, went home, licked out the feed bin."
It's Me wins at Randwick on September 19
Cavanough said the opinions of experienced people in the racing game just made him more convinced that his own opinion about the unbeaten four-year-old was spot on.
"Yeah, all the good judges, all the jocks you run into, you ask them what can win the 'Kozzie' and they all want to be on her, so that normally tells you," he said.
It's Me only arrived on the scene in early August, when she bolted in to win a Maiden Handicap over 1000 metres at Scone. She then gained prominence in betting for The Kosciuszko when she won a TAB Highway Class 2 Handicap over 1100 metres at Randwick.
But it was her win at her third - and most recent - start, in a TAB Highway Class 3 Handicap over 1000m at Randwick on September 19 that turned betting for The Kosciuszko on its head.
It's Me was immediately promoted to clear favouritism for the race and has remained there ever since.
The mare's dominance has overshadowed the fact Cavanough has another horse in the rich race for country-trained gallopers that is also a legitimate chance.
Four-year-old gelding Fender has won four of its five career starts and is priced at $17.
"Can't be going any better," Cavanough said of the horse.
"His work on Saturday morning was great. Worked over 1000 metres - good, solid gallop. He needs to have a good, solid gallop because he'll be up near the front swinging at 'em, that's his racing style. He worked really well.
"Both horses are in really good order."