By Ray Hickson
Trainer Damien Lane sees no reason to divert from the old school ‘catch me if you can’ tactics that have worked wonders with Oakfield Twilight as he chases a hat-trick at Randwick on Saturday.
The five-year-old, under apprentice Chris Williams, has been able to break up his opposition and open sizeable leads at his past two starts and still hold on to claim victory.
Lane said if Oakfield Twilight gets it right again in the TAB Handicap (1200m), where he was $10 on Thursday, he’ll earn a shot at a race like next month’s Ramornie Handicap at Grafton.
“He’s a horse we’ve always had an opinion of and we tried a lot of different things early days to get him to settle,’’ Lane said.
“But riding him the way we have the last few starts is the key to him.
“I think just letting him be comfortable is working and if he’s five or six in front let him be.
“There’s no intention from us to go out and lead by 10 lengths but if the horse is comfortable and he’s that far in front I’m happy.’’
Oakfield Twilight rises 2.5kg for his last start all the way win at Randwick, two weeks ago, where he led by about three lengths coming around the turn and just lasted to beat Monte Ditto.
It was his second start in blinkers and Lane said he hopes the track pattern allows the gelding to follow the rail after he noticeably rolled back to the fence in the straight last start.
“The horse didn’t help himself in the sense that the fence was off and when he was placed under pressure Chris said all he wanted to do was get to the fence,’’ Lane said.
“He was running out of petrol but he was also wandering back to the worst part of the track. So he is a lot better when he has that fence to follow.
“The more they win the harder the race they go in, or the more weight they carry, but that’s the price you pay for winning. A lot of things look to map his way but you never know in racing.”
Lane said the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton looks a nice race for Oakfield Twilight but he won’t head north and take on open class if the horse can’t collect another Benchmark 78 in town.
“He’d probably have to win, or run very well, but that would probably be his target race and he’d go for a break after that,’’ he said.
Stablemate Oakfield Captain has the heavy track and wide alley to contend with in the Ranvet Handicap (1600m) but Lane said the last start Wingham Cup winner, $18 with TAB, will put in as usual.
Williams will also ride the five-year-old who drops 3.5kg on that win at Taree and Lane believes if he handles the conditions there’s every reason to think he can be competitive.
“He’s a really genuine horse, he’s never far away and the times that he is he’s had excuses,’’ he said.
“While it was only Taree he had 60kg, he had to push wide on the turn and get rolling and I thought it was a really good effort.
Oakfield Twilight wins at Randwick on June 6
“He is a horse that rolls forward, he might be able to follow (Mr Dependable) across. He’s one of those horses that every stable loves to have. He never breaks the stop watch in his work but he puts in race day.’’
Lane’s other runners at Randwick, Pirate Ben and All But Gone, are destined to start at generous odds but the Wyong trainer said he can make a case for All But Gone to run a cheeky race.
A $51 chance with TAB in the Sky racing Active Handicap (1400m), the eight-year-old is second-up off an eye-catching fifth at Newcastle behind Café Royal where he wasn’t able to be tested to the line.
“Digger (Darryl McLellan) rode him and said if he got any ounce of luck he probably wins,’’ Lane said.
“He has a good turn of foot and he didn’t get to use it the other day. He loves the wet tracks, he grows an extra leg.
“He’d be a knockout chance, obviously he is going to be big odds but being the last race there might be a few scratchings and he’ll be out the back and hitting the line late.’’