By Ray Hickson
Castelvecchio is the star but tried horses are the backbone of Richard Litt’s stable and the Group 1 winning trainer is looking to ex-Godolphin galloper Morton’s Fork to deliver an early Christmas present at Randwick on Saturday.
He’ll also debut two new additions to the stable in the shape of Canyonero and National Guard at the feature summer meeting.
Morton’s Fork has recorded three placings from six starts for Litt who says the Listed $140,000 Christmas Cup (2400m) is right up the gelding’s alley.
Although the six-year-old finished eighth in the ATC Cup (2000m) at his latest start Litt said it was four weeks between runs and he’ll be a much fitter horse for the step up in distance.
“It was a few weeks between runs for him the other day and he was a little bit bludgy,’’ he said.
“I think he needed that run and it would have topped him off for the 2400m. He has a good barrier, good jockey (Glen Boss), it's not an overly strong field, I have high hopes for sure.’’
Morton's Fork, $9 with TAB, settled well back in the ATC Cup after drawing wide but Punter’s Intelligence shows he ran a similar final 600m (35.16) to the winner Alward and Litt is convinced he’ll enjoy the 2400m.
“He was a cheap horse at $100,000 really when you're running for good money in the city week in week out,’’ he said.
“He was only a couple of lengths of Tally in the Rosehill Cup, if he brings that sort of form he'll win.’’
Canyonero was purchased out of the Mark Newnham stable by Castelvecchio’s owner Ottavio Galletta and Litt is looking forward to seeing what the last start maiden winner can do in the CES Handicap (1100m).
The four-year-old had recorded 11 minor placings before he broke through at his 16th start six weeks ago and Litt is hoping the genuine speed that is on paper materialises on race day.
“He likes to be ridden back, he has a low weight and a good turn of foot,’’ Litt said.
“It's probably his biggest test for a while, but he shows plenty of ability and I'm excited to see what he can do. He loves the speed on, he just has to get to the outside and get the breaks.’’
Canyonero is an $81 chance with TAB but Litt’s ex-Aidan O’Brien trained recruit National Guard is being offered more respect by the market at $12 in the TAB Long May We Play Handicap (1400m).
Morton's Fork runs fourth in the ATC Cup on November 2
National Guard was the travelling companion of O’Brien’s TAB Everest runner Ten Sovereigns, he’s a last start winner over 1655m at Killarney in Ireland and won a Nowra barrier trial last weekend.
Litt isn’t sure what to expect from the Northern Hemisphere three-year-old and said they’ll go back from a wide gate and the horse will improve on whatever he does.
“He's an interesting horse, he doesn't show anything at home and we struggle to get anything out of him,’’ he said.
“We put the blinkers on and he switched on. It's going to be a learning day for us.
“It's a nice roomy track, he'll get back and hopefully there's good speed and we see him hitting the line late. He's probably one for a couple of starts time.’’
Meanwhile, Castelvecchio returned to work on December 3 and Litt said he’ll be ready to trial towards the end of January or early February.