By Ray Hickson
Trainer Joe Pride’s suspicion that Passage Of Time is best suited to a traditional sprint trip will be put to the test at Rosehill on Saturday.
Although the five-year-old won at 1400m in the spring of 2017, the Warwick Farm trainer says he’s a different horse now and one that seems to crave a sprint distance with cover.
And that’s the scenario Passage Of Time faces in the Turf Drain Australia Handicap (1200m).
Pride said while the gelding had excuses after sitting outside the lead from a wide draw in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) he was disappointed with the result.
“I thought he was okay, I didn’t think he had the run I was looking for,’’ he said.
“I wanted a bit of cover but he was never going to get it from the alley. I thought bringing him back to 1200m I might get the right run.
“His first two runs were excellent. Even the other day he still ran okay but I’m wondering if he runs a genuine 1350m or 1400m and if he doesn’t then that run in Brisbane might not be that bad.’’
Passage Of Time, $4.20 with TAB, jumps from the inside alley at Rosehill so will get the cover he needs and that’s a greater concern than the 60.5kg he’ll carry.
Pride said there’s no reason to think he won’t reproduce the performance that saw him romp home at Randwick four weeks back.
“I couldn’t justify keeping him up in Brisbane on the back of that run so hopefully he’s back to the form he showed two starts ago,’’ he said.
It wouldn’t be a feature staying race in Sydney without the seemingly ageless Destiny’s Kiss and the 10-year-old contests his fourth Listed $150,000 Elite Sand & Soil McKell Cup (2400m).
It’s been almost a year since Destiny’s Kiss last greeted the judge, in the 2018 McKell Cup, and while Pride is frustrated that he pays for his consistency without winning at the weights he said the horse is in A1 order.
The trainer couldn’t help but comment on the size of the field opposing Destiny’s Kiss, and stablemate Tamarack, with a full field of 14 likely to line up.
“I’m surprised at the depth and the numbers in the race,’’ he said.
“It’s nice to think Sydney staying races are on the improve and we’re going to get bigger field sizes.
“I think the release of the (ex) Weir horses into the system, particularly to Kris Lees, has bolstered a few of these staying fields.’’
Since changes to the programming and handicapping in NSW were introduced in September field sizes in staying races (2000m-plus) have increased significantly.
In 2000m events the average field size for 2017-18 was 9.89 and at this stage of the season that average is now 10.91.
While over 2400m the 17-18 average was 9.21 and as it stands in 18-19 the average is 11.87.
Tamarack's last start seventh in the Lord Mayors Cup
As for his chances of winning the race Pride said Destiny’s Kiss will run his usual honest race and is enthusiastic about Tamarack.
“I thought his run the other day was excellent, through the line his last furlong was excellent,’’ he said.
“Tamarack’s run (seventh in the Lord Mayors Cup) was terrific the other day.
“Watch that replay, and his run was easily one of the best in the race. He had no luck at all.
“He went forward and back and had to go forward again and was asked to sprint at the end. With a furlong to go he was still looking a chance.’’
Tamarack is being aimed at the 3200m Stayers Cup at the end of June.