By Ray Hickson
Trainer Danny Williams has all but taken The Kosciuszko off the table with talented but so far enigmatic galloper Acquittal believing he’ll come right into his own up to a mile.
To date the five-year-old’s only win in 12 starts was over the talented Kopi Luwak at 1400m some 18 months ago.
He’s staying at 1200m at Randwick on Saturday but Williams has thrown the blinkers on and will be banking on last season’s premier jockey James McDonald to show Acquittal who’s boss in the Racing NSW Trainers Highway.
“If he jumps brilliantly like he is able to do, and it might be that way with the blinkers on, he’ll roll forward and he likes to bowl along,’’ Williams said.
“He’s a horse that needs to free roll, the day he beat Kopi Luwak was a perfect ride and that’s how he needs to be ridden.
“If you’re going to try and hold him up and expect him to sprint it’s just not there. With the (heavy) rating of the track it will make it a genuine 1200m.’’
Acquittal resumed with a defeat at Moruya as a $1.90 favourite on July 15 and, aside from all the obvious excuses in the run, Williams said he was underdone and hadn’t had a jump out.
Aquittal's first-up third at Moruya on July 15
It may have been a rare touch of overconfidence from the Goulburn trainer in the gelding’s ability thinking he’d be too good for Class 1 rivals even with 61kg.
As it turned out 4kg claiming apprentice Angela Cooper didn’t have the saloon ride Williams expected, the horse blew the start and made a wide run around the field before weakening late.
“I thought he’d be just a bit too good for them but as it turned out he had too much to do,’’ he said.
“He wasn’t wound up enough for the type of run he had.
“I’m so confident with him wanting a mile I’ve nearly given The Kosciuszko away. We’ve put the blinkers on only because we’re staying at 1200m and will take them off again after this start.’’
Williams reports Acquittal, $8.50 with TAB in a wide Highway market, has contested an 800m jump out since his Moruya placing and will be a much fitter horse.
The Kosciuszko is well and truly on the radar for stablemates Don’t Give A Damn, who ran fourth in the inaugural running last year, and She Knows.
Williams is confident he has Don’t Give A Damn (see below using the trainer's equine spa) over his long standing feet issues and is hoping one of the 14 slot winners makes a leap of faith to allow him to tackle the $1.3m feature first-up.
“This is the first decent spell he’s had to allow his feet to grow and settle,’’ he said.
“We’ve taken radiographs of his feet and got his ankles far better. He was jarring up in his pedal bones.
“We’ve got a different horse, we’ve got a Don’t Give A Damn we saw beat Trekking (subsequent Stradbroke winner) a preparation before, and he’s come back the best I’ve seen him.
“I expect this horse to come back and show what he did the preparation before last.’’
She Knows battled with hamstring issues last time in and Williams says she’s back from her break in good shape.
The mare was a Group 2 and Group 3 placegetter last season and could well be asked to audition for The Kosciuszko by taking on the Everest horses.
“Looking at last year’s methods of people getting into the Kosciuszko, Rod Northam (After All That) and Brett Cavanough’s (The Monstar) horses went through races like the Shorts,’’ he said.
“Albeit she may not be up to (Everest) horses it seems to me last year you had more people interested in horses going through those races and coming back to a Kosciuszko than winning form.’’
Don’t Give A Damn is a $15 chance in TAB’s Kosciuszko market and She Knows sits on $26.
The $5 tickets in the Kosciuszko sweep are on sale at TAB outlets and via the TAB app until 11.59pm on Sunday 8 September with the 14 winners drawn two days later.