By Ray Hickson
The rapid improvement shown by emerging three-year-old Herzegovina since being gelded has trainer Stephen Jones dreaming of a start in The Kosciuszko.
Of course Herzegovina has a fair way to go just yet but Jones says if he can make it three from three as a gelding in The Entrance Leagues Club Handicap (1200m) at Gosford on Thursday then the dream could be alive.
The well named galloper, out of a mare called Yugoslavia, has been a dominant winner at Dubbo and Muswellbrook this preparation and simply carries a different attitude to his racing.
“He was a bit of a savage colt last time in and a bit hard to handle,’’ Jones said.
“He’s always been a very enthusiastic worker, what he does he does hard, but he’s more tractable this time.
“He’s a different horse and very impressive in everything he’s done. So much so we’re thinking long term he’s a Kosciuszko type.’’
In his first campaign as a colt Herzegovina showed promise with a pacing behind Girl Tuesday at Newcastle and a maiden win over Think Free at Tamworth.
Herzegovina wins easily at Muswellbrook on July 1
Jones said he’ll be looking to raise the bar to gain the necessary exposure and be appealing as a Kosciuszko contender, where he is currently a $51 chance with TAB, if successful at Gosford.
And he says the race sets up for him to achieve that goal as the gelding, who opened $4.80 favourite, will jump from barrier three in the 10 horse field.
“I hope they clap the pace on so he can get the sit but if they don’t he’ll land in front and still gives you plenty,’’ he said.
“You wanted to see him do it again (at Muswellbrook) and he’s done it easily both times. He has to take that next step to provincial and hopefully he does.’’
Jones also has Kosciuszko aspirations for talented four-year-old Hit The Target who is close to trialling after a Country Championships tilt in the autumn.
He ran third behind Unbiased in the Tamworth Qualifier then finished unplaced behind Noble Boy in the Muswellbrook Wild Card.
“He’s going really well, he did no wrong last time,’’ he said.
“We tried to get him in the Championships, a few bad barriers cost him, but he’s a handy horse. He’s not far off trialling, in the next couple of weeks.’’
The $1.3m The Kosciuszko (1200m) is run on Everest Day at Royal Randwick (October 19) and is for NSW country trained horses with two spaces opened up in the 14 horse field in 2019 for horses trained in Canberra.
The $5 tickets in the Kosciuszko sweep are now available at TAB venues across NSW and online via TAB’s website and App. TAB account holders don’t need to register their tickets but if you don’t have an account head to thekosciuszko.com.au to register them.