By Ray Hickson
He’s named after a champion and trainer Ron Quinton has secured the services of a champion to find out where promising three-year-old Ljungberg stands in the scheme of things.
Quinton has been trying to find the right race for Ljungberg since his impressive first-up win at Canterbury three weeks ago and came up with the 2019 Membership Handicap (1300m) on Randwick’s Kensington track on Saturday.
The trainer admits the race has come up a bit stronger than he expected so he’s pleased to have former protégé Hugh Bowman on his side.
“I was lucky, I got in early and tried to get him because Andrew (Adkins) is out of business for a while,’’ Quinton said.
“I’m very happy to have him on so I hope he can do the job for us.’’
Ljungberg wins at Canterbury on December 14
Regular rider Adkins is sidelined with pericarditis (heart inflammation).
Ljungberg – Quinton says it’s pronounced ‘Jung-bear’ – is by I Am Invincible and is named after Swiss soccer star Fredrik Ljungberg who was part of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ team of 2003-04.
He’s a horse that has long shown Quinton ability, enough to debut him in the 2017 Wyong Magic Millions, and after a setback and gelding operation it seems he may realise his potential.
Despite a wide run, where he covered an extra 8.8m, Ljungberg still ran the second fastest last 600m of 36.48 (Punters Intelligence) in his Canterbury win on December 14 on a heavy track.
“He’s always shown a bit of promise but at the end of the day it was only a maiden,’’ Quinton said.
“It’s hard to find an easy one but he’s in good order so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes.’’
Meanwhile, champion Winx won’t be the only popular mare on a farewell campaign in 2019 - Quinton is preparing his talented duo Dixie Blossoms and Daysee Doom for their final preparations.
While they aren’t in the same category as Winx the pair, affectionately known and Dixie and Daysee, have been the backbone of Quinton’s stable for half a decade.
“It is hard to find them and to get them both in the one year is quite amazing,’’ Quinton said.
“They’ve earned good prizemoney and they will be very hard to replace. They’ve held my stable together for going on five years.
“We’ll miss them, they are both six so they’ve been there a long time.’’
Dixie Blossoms has been back in work about two weeks after completing pre-training, she hasn’t raced since Everest Day when she finished midfield in the Craven Plate (2000m) while Daysee Doom has had a longer break after failing in the Golden Pendant (1400m) in September.
Quinton also has exciting colt Royal Celebration back from a freshen up after posting back-to-back wins in the late spring and he’s set to tackle the $1m Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Warwick Farm on February 9.
“We’re going to look at the Inglis race, he’s eligible for that, they’ll probably be too sharp for him at 1100m but it’ll be a first-up run,’’ he said.
“I might have time to give him a trial, and fresh would be his only chance of winning a race like that.
“After that he’s got to take on the real big boys. It’ll be interesting, the way he races you’d think he will stretch out to 1600m.’’