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Sapphire Sees Pride Return To Plan A With Fasika

By Ray Hickson

It was trainer Joe Pride’s version of panic buying.

Trainer Joe Pride (Pic: Bradley Photos)

From the moment Fasika came back into work he’d had his sights set on aiming the talented mare at the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at the end of the carnival but in the midst of the coronavirus uncertainty a few weeks ago he made an uncharacteristic move.

Fasika started her preparation with a bang, beating I Am Excited in the Group 3 Wenona Girl (1200m) at Randwick on March 7, and appeared on target but soon after the world would change dramatically.

Pride had a throw at the stumps by diverting to the Group 1 Galaxy on Golden Slipper Day, Fasika drew wide and raced wide and while she put in a commendable effort to be beaten 2.9 lengths by I Am Excited he wishes he could take it back.

“I wasn’t happy, not in the horse’s (Galaxy) performance, that I rushed into the race,’’ he said.

“I had a clear plan and I swayed away from it in the panic around the coronavirus. I planned to run in the Star Kingdom then three weeks to the All Aged.

“In consultation with the ownership group we wondered if there wasn’t going to be a chance to get to a Group 1 this preparation so maybe we should go to The Galaxy.

“You don’t win many feature races on afterthoughts. If she draws a barrier she probably nearly runs top three and it would have justified it all.

“It was just one of those weeks where it didn’t go well for us.”

Pride is expecting the All Aged Stakes on Saturday week to be a target race for a lot of trainers with the coronavirus changing the program in NSW and wiping out the Brisbane carnival as we know it.

So it’s important Fasika produces her best in the Group 2 $300,000 TAB Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday to right the ship and return to Pride's Plan A.

“The All Aged was the original plan and we’ve gone back to it but on a back up,’’ he said.

“She’d still have to run well to justify it. What we’ve seen with this carnival is everyone realises this is the last throw and there’s unlikely to be a Brisbane carnival so there’s nothing to aim your horses at.”

Brenton Avdulla is back on Fasika in the Sapphire and she has another wide barrier to contend with but Pride quickly dismisses it as an issue.

“I’m not comparing the two draws because drawing wide at Rosehill at all is a nightmare whereas at Randwick, and I don’t have the stats to back it up, over the years I’ve found it doesn’t matter,’’ he said.

Fasika wins at Randwick on March 7

“If you have a go forward horse I don’t think it matters at all. She’ll roll forward, it’s a long run and one corner to get around so I’m not worried about it.’’

Fasika shares favouritism with TAB at $4.40 with Godolphin mare Savatiano while Pride’s other runner, last start Group 3 winner Miss Exfactor, is a $17 chance.

Pride said Miss Exfactor’s Birthday Card Stakes win on Slipper Day is a high bar to live up to but said she deserves her chance in conditions she relishes.

“Whether or not a mare that has taken 17 or 18 starts to produce anything like that can produce it again straight away in the back of my mind it’s hard to do,’’ he said.

“I gave her a little trial the other day and she’s ticking over nicely. She’s done her job already by winning that Group 3 and there’s nowhere to hide when you’ve won one of those races.’’

All the fields, form and replays for Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day at Randwick on Saturday

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