By Ray Hickson
It's hard to find a negative about the return of promising mare Tricky Gal at Rosehill on Wednesday and trainer Matthew Smith feels the same way.
The lightly raced four-year-old, a winner of four from six to date, was being aimed at the Brisbane carnival but Smith will go looking for a local target in the wake of changes forced by the coronavirus.
Tricky Gal has been a standout in her two trials leading into the Astern @ Inglis Easter Handicap (1300m) and Smith expects that to transfer to race day.
"She's sharp, she's really well, she's big and strong and in really good order,'' he said.
"We started her off at 1400m last time in but based on her trials you wouldn't think she'd have any trouble with 1200m. We're starting off at 1300m and she'll run well, no doubt about that."
If there is a small concern in Smith's mind it's a wet track first-up but when she came off a six week break at Wyong back in September she struck a heavy surface and was beaten a lip.
Tricky Gal, $8.50 with TAB, is proven at 1600m already, she won back to back mile races after that Wyong near miss, and because she's still on the way up Smith said it's hard to know what her limits are at the moment.
"She's a very nice mare that's for sure, she has plenty of ability I reckon,'' Smith said.
"You never know where they are going to get to but she's done nothing wrong.
"I was getting her ready for the Brisbane carnival but that's gone by the wayside so we'll just poke around here.''
Stablemate Rock My Wand is likely racing for a shot at the $500,000 Percy Sykes Stakes on Saturday week when she attempts to break through in the Hyland Race Colours Handicap (1200m).
The filly holds a nomination for the Group 2 event on Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day and a win would encourage Smith to have a throw at those stumps.
"You've got to keep your options open so I would be keen to keep going forward with her,'' he said.
"If I think she wants further we could possibly go another way."
Rock My Wand was placed behind Cultural Amnesia at her latest start on the Kensington track two weeks ago.
She's a $5 chance with TAB and Smith said she will be very competitive.
Tricky Gal runs third in a Hawkesbury trial on March 23
"She's running well and there's no reason she couldn't win,'' he said.
"We've drawn a bit awkwardly but we drew a good gate the other day and that didn't help us. I like her, I think she has a bit of upside."
Smith said honest five-year-old American Salute will take his place in the Ranvet Power Formula Handicap (1200m) if he gains a start and he’s excited to see Nimalee tackle the Group 2 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Nimalee has won four of her six starts including the past two on the Kensington track, downing subsequent Group 3 placegetter Shadow Flight on both occasions.
“She will take some beating, she's going super. She will be even better over 2400m,’’ Smith said.
“She puts herself into the race, has a good will to win and she's had a nice campaign leading into it.”