By Ray Hickson
If there’s one thing co-trainer Robert Price would like to achieve with rising seven-year-old mare Leami Astray before her racing days are over it’d be to finally win a city race.
There’s no thoughts of retirement yet but the mare has been placed eight times in Sydney, including one Highway, and Price will have to break new ground with Leami Astray if she is to taste city success at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
She has an imposing fresh record, with three of her four career wins coming first-up, but that’s not the challenge in The Agency Real Estate Handicap (1200m).
“I’ve never started her first-up over six (furlongs), but she’s an older mare now and she’s stronger,’’ Price said.
“I think it won’t be an issue, she ran through the line first-up last prep over 1020m.
“She was ultra-consistent last prep, nine runs and she got us a cheque every time. By the same token she’s been an underachiever because she promised us plenty early on.’’
On one hand the statistics don’t read well for Leami Astray – she’s had 12 starts at 1200m for seven placings and raced four times at Warwick Farm for just the one placing, but that was over 1200m back in December.
While she’s had no official trials, Price said she’s done plenty of work.
What is in her favour is having just five rivals and whether she can win simply comes down to how the mare travels in the run.
“She’s had two quiet trials, ones that aren’t exposed, and she is forward enough,’’ he said.
“It’s up to her whether she settles and gives herself a relaxing run and doesn’t fight the rider.
“She can be unruly to gallop at times but she is an outstanding mare to look at. I train her out of the paddock and she just has this immaculate coat on her, she has this great constitution.’’
Leami Astray, $4.60 second favourite with TAB, was nominated for an 1100m race on Saturday and although the Kensington track holds some appeal the lack of rivals and volatile weather forecast saw Warwick Farm win out.
Leami Astray's last start second at Moruya in January
“We might strike while the weather is still in our favour,’’ he said.
“But I thought the Kensington would be a better surface. She’s a bit like Goldilocks, she doesn’t like it too hard or too soft. It has to be just right.’’
Any rain falling on Wagga Town Plate day on Thursday would be music to Price’s ears, though, as he’s confident Noble Joey is close to a win.
The six-year-old was a close third at Randwick second-up behind Top Striker but grows a leg when there’s some forgiveness in the surface.
“He looks well placed down there,’’ he said.
“He’s come up very well this prep and his run the other day was outstanding.’’