By Ray Hickson
It’s more than just a lead-up run for Espaaniyah ahead of next month’s Inglis Millennuium when the youngster resumes in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Sure there’s the $2m Millennium in two weeks but co-trainer Adrian Bott said the $58,000 first prizemoney will go a long way to securing a start in the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper.
Espaaniyah’s debut win in the Inglis Banner at Moonee Valley in October and anything earned out of the Millennium don’t count towards the Slipper order of entry.
“It’s the start of a long campaign for her, we feel she is a filly we want to work towards the Golden Slipper,’’ Bott said.
“She needs the prizemoney from Saturday plus another lead-up run after the Millennium to put her in contention to get in the field. It is an important race by a number of factors for sure.’’
Espaaniyah wins her barrier trial at Randwick on January 11
On the strength of her debut win and an impressive recent trial victory, Espaaniyah was $2.40 TAB favourite on Friday to remain unbeaten (she’s $6 in the Millennium and $26 in the Slipper) despite top weight of 58kg.
Bott said her natural speed, race experience and the inside barrier help to offset giving away weight.
“It’s important she gets to the races and have a good foundation run before getting out to the 1200m,’’ he said.
“She has to give away a bit of weight but she’s naturally a very sharp filly with good speed and we saw that in the trial.
“The main thing to take out of it is there’s further improvement to come.
“I was happy with that draw for her. Hopefully she can utilise that speed and we would want to take full advantage of it.’’
While Espaaniyah is naturally top pick among the Waterhouse/Bott yard, he said debutant Dawn Passage ($8.50) shouldn’t be underestimated.
The colt has won both his barrier trials in good style and while Bott is adamant he’ll be a better horse once he gets beyond 1200m he’s just as adamant the horse has talent.
“He’s a really nice colt and a lovely prospect for us going forward,’’ he said.
“He’s taking on horses a bit more seasoned than him but you can’t fault anything he’s done in the trials.
“It was more the manner in which he did it, he might be flying under the radar a bit but he’s nice and forward and ready to roll.’’
Dawn Passage is also eligible to run in the Inglis Millennium but probably needs to win to make final field.
Comments from Adrian Bott on the stable’s other Randwick runners:
Luskintyre Lass (Race 4, $4.40): “She’s a mare in form and we want to capitalise on that. She’s on a relatively quick back up again but she’s thrived since that last start victory.
“I liked the way she relaxed in the run and the way she let down the other day. Up in class, but she does look well placed. She gave every indication last start she should run out a strong mile.’’
Penske (Race 7, $3.60): “He’s down in the weights, he was impressive over the 1400m first-up and is meeting a couple of them first-up in their campaign so he has fitness on his side.
“It might be a race that maps better for him speed wise (than the mile race). If he was to go on to contest some nice races over the autumn it will give us a nice guide on how he might stack up.
“It took him a bit of time to get over the first run so we’ve spaced his runs and given him a nice trial in between. He probably has to improve again but he will be very competitive.’’
Sondelon (Race 8, $3.10): “He’s returned in great shape and there’s a lot to like about the two trials since he’s been back in. He’s nice and forward and a bit better mentally this preparation. It will be a good test for him but he’s a horse with a nice future.
“He does have tactical speed to lead but off his trial he was also able to relax nicely and finish off strongly. He’s not one dimensional, it will be pace dependent on the day.’’