By Ray Hickson
Trainer Greg McFarlane is making use of every allowance available to him to give Catesby his chance at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
But it’s the one variable he can’t control – the weather – that he feels could be the difference between winning and losing in the December Handicap (1400m).
McFarlane elected to take advantage of Catesby’s true weight to accept on 52kg and with Jenny Duggan’s 2kg claim he’ll carry just the 50kg so will be receiving up to 9.5kg from his higher rated rivals.
“There’s a couple of nice horses in the race but with his ability he has a big show,’’ McFarlane said.
“The only question mark is what the state of the track is. I think soft will be okay but I haven’t got enough experience with him on a heavy track to know.
“I’ve taken the true weight of 52 and the claim to try and open up a gap between us and the higher rated horses on a similar weight.
“If he handles the track he’s going to take some beating.’’
Catesby has been narrowly beaten in both starts for McFarlane, by Sweet Deal at Rosehill on November 17, with Duggan in the saddle, and by Mapmaker two weeks later.
Catesby goes down narrowly to Mapmaker at Rosehill on December 1
The latter performance, in a Benchmark 88, gives the Gosford trainer some confidence that he’s capable of giving them something to catch and the market seems to agree as he’s third favourite at $6 with TAB.
“He’s well placed and he’s going well,’’ McFarlane said.
“It’s a higher quality race but he’ll jump and wherever he lands that’s where he’ll be.’’
There’s no doubts about stablemate Super Tycoon’s ability to handle a wet track – in fact he prefers them – but McFarlane concedes the seven-year-old is struggling to recapture his best form after three runs from a two year break.
“He’s travelling well but he’s not letting down like he does at home yet,’’ he said.
“Hopefully he can get back into gear again, if not I’ll give him a break and try again in winter. He’s had a long time off so sometimes they need a preparation before they fire again.’’
McFarlane is warming to the chances of another ex-Godolphin recruit Dissolute in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1200m).
Dissolute has only started twice for the new stable and finished midfield behind Isaurian at Rosehill five weeks ago but the gelding was found to have cardiac arrythmia. Despite that, he still managed to run home in 33.27 for his last 600m (Punters Intelligence).
He’s been back to the trials and pleased McFarlane in his subsequent work so he warns the $16 chance shouldn’t be underestimated.
“The barrier was a bit of a concern but by the end of the day he‘s probably going to be in the best part of it which brings him into the race nicely,’’ he said.
“The track won’t be an issue, I think he’ll like a wet track and he’s looking for the 1200m. He can just settle early and he will be running on strong late.’’