By Ray Hickson
It’s not lost on co-trainer Michael Freedman how strange it is to have a horse coming through three country wins up to Class 2 level be a dominant favourite for a Group 3 let alone a major Group 1 later in the spring.
But that’s the situation exciting three-year-old Love Tap is in as he makes his city debut, with plenty expected of him, in the Group 3 $200,000 Precise Air Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The attractive grey is the $2.25 favourite with TAB on the back of his three dominant wins at Nowra and Goulburn and with the defection of Mo’unga from next month’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes he also tops that market at $3.50.
Two of the past three Gloaming winners have claimed the Spring Champion - Ace High in 2017 and Shadow Hero last year - so it's an important stepping stone for Love Tap.
“I don’t know if it’s a reflection of the horses he’s in against but he’s obviously a progressive type,’’ Freedman said.
“It’s a huge jump in class but he couldn’t have done much more than what he’s been asked to do so far. We decided to take a conservative route with him, take him through the country.
“He’s a horse that seems to have a bit of talent and we thought we’d take the softer route until we get to a distance that he’s bred to get to.”
Love Tap made his debut in a 1200m Nowra maiden in June and finished strongly from the second half of the field to score, his two Goulburn victories at 1200m and 1500m were virtual exhibition gallops.
In the latest he started what they’d describe as ‘Winx odds’, $1.07, in what was an armchair ride for Nash Rawiller in his first raceday experience on the gelding.
In that 1500m race Love Tap recorded the meeting's fourth fastest last 200m of 11.48 (Punter's Intelligence) - the three faster sectionals all came in races at 1000m.
Whether you take Rawiller going to Goulburn on a Friday to ride a horse as a pointer to the jockey’s impression of Love Tap, Freedman said it was handy for the hoop to get to know him better.
“Nash trialled him at Rosehill prior to the race at Goulburn and when the decision was made to take him there instead of the Dulcify he was happy to go down and ride because he wanted to get a feel under race conditions,’’ he said.
“It was good for the horse to travel down there, it’s a nice big track and one of those tracks that in the past great trainers like Guy Walter used a lot to get young horses going.’’
Freedman sees Love Tap settling handy from the inside alley given he’s a horse that "can put himself anywhere’’ and is leaving it up to Rawiller to sum the race up early.
Talented filly Forbidden Love brings Sydney’s best fillies formline into the Listed $140,000 Schweppes Heritage Stakes (1100m) having chased home Dame Giselle and Hungry Heart three weeks ago.
There was some debate as to whether Forbidden Love would tackle that pair again but Freedman said she’s better placed, despite taking on the boys, back in distance.
Love Tap wins at Goulburn on September 11
“I thought her run in the Furious was really good, the two that beat her home have gone on and done it again in the Tea Rose,’’ he said.
“We ‘ummed and aahed’ about going up to the 1400m or came back in distance and we opted for the 1100m because she’s a bold going type of filly.
“Despite having to take on colts the 1100m at Rosehill is potentially more suitable.”
Forbidden Love sat outside the leader in the Furious and was beaten less than two lengths by Dame Giselle. That followed a strong on pace first-up win at Canterbury.
She was the $3.90 Heritage favourite with TAB on Thursday and Freedman isn’t taking the race for granted but is confident she will run well.
“There’s obviously some nice horses in thar race so it’s not any gimme but from that gate with her racing style it looks like a nice option for her on paper,’’ he said.