By Ray Hickson
Is Country Championship runner-up Don’t Give A Damn a Kosciuszko contender or a lightweight Epsom hope?
That’s a problem trainer Danny Williams is hoping to have after the talented five-year-old returns in The CEO Magazine Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
All four of the Goulburn trainer's runners at the meeting - She Knows, Highway Sixtysix and My Blue Jeans the other trio – are being put on show by Williams as potential starters in the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko (1200m) on October 13.
“It’s been a plan from very early this year to aim at the country race on Everest Day for as many horses as I possibly could,’’ Williams said.
“They’ve all had programs based on aiming at October 13 so they are going to be there for people to scrutinise.
“I want to put my horses in races leading into selection time and if my horses are winning and performing well you have some chance of being considered.’’
Don’t Give A Damn is an $11 chance in TAB’s Kosciuszko market and Williams said he’s having a “bit each-way’’ by keeping both the Kosciuszko and the Epsom on the radar at this point.
He’s excited by the prospect of a soft, or at least forgiving, track at Rosehill with the forecast rain.
“He’s lost a lot of confidence running on firm ground so he just needs a track to have some sort of cushion in it,’’ he said.
“What we’ve aimed at doing is running at 1200m first-up to say that we’re here. Providing he runs well it showcases he’s come back in good fitness and form and that’s what we’ll try and prove.’’
Although Don’t Give A Damn hasn’t officially trialled, Williams said he won a jump out at Goulburn by 10-15 lengths then another at Moruya in good time.
“He had a gallop on Tuesday and it was perhaps the best work I’ve seen him do,’’ he said.
“I think he’s pretty spot on for a first-up run, out of my four runners he’s the most ready.’’
The plan for Don’t Give A Damn (vision above from Danny Williams, working on the treadmill) is to run second-up at 1400m before a decision is made as to whether he continues towards the Epsom or is offered a slot in The Kosciuszko following the ticket draw on September 14.
It’d be safe to say that She Knows would enter calculations for The Kosciuszko, where she is $26, if she can lump 63.5kg to victory in the Lindt Handicap (1100m) at her first run in seven weeks.
The four-year-old has carried 62.5kg to win a Highway and while she’s very honest Williams said she might just need the hit-out.
“Generally in the past she’s needed one run and now she’s up in weight she perhaps needs a couple of runs to come to hand at this level,’’ he said.
“She’s running against in-form, very fit horses, she has to be at the top of her game all the time.
“She’s very exposed when she comes back from a break and out of all of my horses she’s perhaps the most vulnerable on Saturday.’’
And of his two runners in the TAB Highway (1100m), the trainer said Highway Sixtysix is still the pick of them despite My Blue Jeans being more forward.
Williams has always had a big opinion of Highway Sixtysix and is adamant if she’s not selected for The Kosciuszko this year, where she’s $26, she’ll be one of the leading contenders in 2019.
The mare went straight to the paddock after she was a late scratching from a Highway at Rosehill on July 14, a week after her gutsy first-up win at Randwick and has had the benefit of a trial at Moruya last weekend.
Highway Sixtysix trialling at Moruya last Sunday
“She’s come back a lot more relaxed, she’s a mare that’s been very much a work in progress,’’ he said.
“She’s going to be a bit underdone but I think she has the class to be winning. She’s as equally vulnerable in fitness as she was first-up when she won at her last start.
“My Blue Jeans has been in work after three weeks off for 36 days compared to Highway Sixtysix 27 days since she had 2-1/2 weeks off so he’s slightly fitter. If we get a bit of rain his chances are improved.’’
The $5 tickets for The Kosciuszko Sweep and Calcutta are widely available through TAB online and betting terminals, at race meetings and in Pub TABs and clubs across New South Wales.
To register your tickets visit www.thekosciuszko.com.au.
On September 14 two draws are conducted, the first 12 tickets drawn win the right to select a horse and negotiate a deal with its owners for a share of the prizemoney.
For the Calcutta, 12 tickets are drawn and they will represent a runner in The Kosciuszko. Winners take home 50 per cent of whatever their runner sells for in the Calcutta on Friday October 12.