By Ray Hickson
It's a rare Group race on the Sydney calendar that Hall Of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse hasn't yet won - though her legendary father TJ Smith won it 10 times - and classy mare Con Te Partiro is out to correct that anomaly at Randwick on Saturday.
So there’s been nothing left to chance by Waterhouse and co-trainer Adrian Bott to ensure classy mare Con Te Partiro is ready to ambush some high profile rivals in Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Waterhouse has recorded six placings in the race formerly known as the Warwick Stakes, and a Group 1 since 2018, including Ecuador's third to Winx in 2017 and Pornichet finishing second to Royal Descent in 2015.
Bott is wary that the dual Group 1 winner is stepping out of mares company into her first weight-for-age assignment and said she’s been wound up a lot more than in her previous first-up tasks.
The seven-year-old US bred mare has been pencilled in for a return to her homeland later this year for the Breeders’ Cup meeting but Bott said the immediate focus is the Winx Stakes.
“We have her nice and forward for the run, we tried to have her a bit more forward than we did last campaign,’’ Bott said.
“She’s stepping into weight-for-age so she needs to be a bit more forward and it’ll be a good test to see how she’s placed. I feel she’s capable of measuring up.
“She’s in great shape, I feel she’s come back in the order she finished up her last campaign in.’’
Con Te Partiro’s two trials have suggested she’s in good spirits, Tim Clark didn’t ask a whole lot of her as Prague poked through on the inside in their 850m heat on August 14.
Clark won the Winx Stakes last year on $31 outsider Samadoubt, he also won the race on $15 chance Metal Bender in 2010, but Con Te Partiro, at $8 with TAB, is being respected by the market a lot more than those previous winners.
“She’s in a great frame of mind, she’s enjoying her work and I think that’s when she races best and it translates into results as we saw last preparation,’’ Bott said.
“I feel it’s a race with an incredible amount of depth and very competitive, at the same time I think it is open and there’s a lot of genuine chances in the race.
“We’re fortunate that she’s drawn quite well and maps very well for the run so hopefully she gets a lot of favours which she will need.’’
Bott doesn’t expect stayer Wolfe to be fighting out the finish first-up at weight-for-age over 1400m but said he's tracking well for his spring campaign.
Kaakit Akit has her first run since the Magic Night back in March when she resumes in the Group 2 $200,000 Darley Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) and Bott said the break has served her well.
The filly led all the way to win on debut at midweek level back in February before finishing 11th behind Thermosphere.
“She created a great impression at her debut run,’’ Bott said.
“We were giving her an opportunity to qualify herself for the Slipper and that meant having to throw her in the deep end.
“She struggled a bit in the conditions so we’re forgiving for that. She’s come back a lot stronger this time in, mentally more prepared for it.’’
Con Te Partiro runs second in a Kensington trial on August 14
It’s been almost a year since Just Thinkin’ ran fifth in the inaugural Bondi Stakes and Bott is enthusiastic about him being more than competitive fresh in the TAB Handicap (1400m).
The gelding, $8 with TAB, has been given two trials, the first was eye-catching over 1040m then he was run off his feet over 850m, and Bott said fitness won’t be his enemy.
“He’s had a nice lead up into this race, plenty of work, he’s as fit as we can get him at home and with the trials,’’ he said.
“He has a nice foundation, nothing helps like race fitness but I think he is a quality type and has great form around him. I think he is going to be a nice progressive type this preparation.
“He will improve off it, no doubt, nothing replaces race fitness when you haven’t raced for that amount of time but I’d like to think class can take him a long way.”
Just Thinkin’ won his first two starts last preparation, including the Listed Dulcify second-up, and ran fourth in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) behind Shadow Hero.