By Ray Hickson
Trainer Joe Pride has an early Group 1 target for talented mare Fasika and he’s hoping her return at Randwick on Saturday can confirm his suspicion that she could be in for her best season yet.
Fasika, already Group 1 placed, is aiming to give Pride his fourth win in the Group 2 $200,000 Heineken Missile Stakes (1200m) following Eduardo last year and Rain Affair’s 2011 and 2013 victories.
Now a six-year-old, Fasika has raced just 14 times and Pride has his eyes firmly on the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) in two weeks for the mare’s first major target.
“When I look at most of my good horses they haven’t necessarily run their best races by that stage so I’d love to think there’s still some upside to her and she can go even better this time around,’’ he said.
“It’s about getting to the Winx. This one would be lovely to pick up along the way.
“I want to target a couple of these early sprints with her and get some of the good horses on the hop.
“The Missile has been a bit soft over the last few years but the Winx won’t be, it’ll be a good race. But if she can get a bit of wet weather that week she’s a good horse at 1400m and at Randwick.”
The switch to Randwick for the Missile, due to the Covid lockdown at Rosehill, has come as a boost for Fasika who has three wins and three placings from seven Randwick starts but has only managed a second in four starts at Rosehill.
Pride accepts that statistic and if you add Fasika’s first-up record of three wins and a second from five attempts, plus barrier one, there’s some expectation about her.
“You’ll often see it with some horses, they’ll like one (track) more than the other,’’ he said.
“At Rosehill it’s two full corners to get around a horseshoe shaped sprint track whereas Randwick is just the one corner.
“She’s a super horse fresh. She’s ready to go, she only came off a short let up after her preparation in the autumn and she gets there probably fitter than most of her rivals.
“I don’t mind my speed horses drawing out but in this instance she does look like the only genuine speed in the race so I was happy for her to draw one.”
Fasika has trialled twice in July, since her last start fourth in the Group 2 Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm, and in the latest was partnered to a trial win at Warwick Farm by her regular trackwork rider Michelle Read.
She was $2.70 favourite with TAB on Wednesday in the Missile, $15 in the Winx and is also in the market at $15 for the new $2m The Invitation (1400m) run on October 23.
If there’s been a positive to the Covid lockdown it’s that so many of the people who work hard behind the scenes have gained exposure for that work.
“Michelle has worked for me longer than any other employee,’’ Pride said.
“She’s always across the way the mare feels, it was more a matter of wanting to see her trial well and give us the indication she was ready to go to the races.
“I talk to Michelle daily about how the mare is going. I don’t use jockeys in trackwork. My riders, and Michelle being the rider of Fasika, they do all the work to get them there.”
Fasika wins a trial at Warwick Farm on July 23
A shot at a stakes race will be the reward for stablemate Invinciano if she can go back-to-back in the Billy Camer Handicap (1500m).
She was a runaway all the way winner on the Kensington track on July 27 under 61kg and Pride said with the track rated good she’ll have her chance to hold her form.
“She’ll be hard to beat, she’s going really well,’’ he said.
“She’s got a really good record when you take away her wet track runs. She’s a beautiful strong mare who can run time and runs her opposition into the ground, it’s a good weapon to have.”
The Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) is run at Hawkesbury on August 19.
Meanwhile, last year’s Missile winner Eduardo is due to kick off his bid for selection in the TAB Everest when he trials at home likely on August 17. He’s one of a number of Everest contenders due to resume in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) a month later.