Trainer Matthew Smith can’t recall starting a horse first-up over 2400m before but when it came to imported stayer Artarmon’s Australian debut at Rosehill on Saturday it made a bit of sense.
The Warwick Farm trainer does admit he’d have preferred a 2000m kick off but given the five-year-old was in work while in quarantine he said it’s best he starts off in his comfort zone.
Artarmon was sent to Smith by OTI Racing with five wins, between 2425m and 3217m, from 16 starts and Smith has given him two local barrier trials.
“They do their homework, he’s obviously a nice staying horse by So You Think and there’s no reason why a horse like this couldn’t adapt to our racing and be a nice stayer here,’’ Smith said.
“If you look at his races overseas he does look a real genuine stayer.
“He’s only on his first prep and probably hasn’t sharpened up enough. I’m sure next prep he’ll sharpen up more but he’s not sharp enough for me to go real short with him (first-up).’’
The market considers Artarmon an outsider, he’s $26 with TAB, and that’s probably a combination of him being first-up in the Iron Jack Handicap (2400m) and under some pressure in his trials.
Smith said while he will learn a lot about the gelding from Saturday’s run he’s expecting a competitive performance.
“He’s improved each trial, his recovery is very good which gives the indication he can handle a mile and a half first-up,’’ he said.
“I’m sure he will run well. He has such a good foundation in him I think he will run the trip, it’s a matter of how he will handle our racing conditions and on race day.’’
Meanwhile Smith will be left without a major contender for some of the summer mile features after pulling the pin on Invictus Prince’s campaign.
The seven-year-old was headed for races like the $1m The Gong (1600m) and the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) but a poor trial convinced Smith to stop and start again.
Dual Group 1 winner Fierce Impact is due back at Smith’s stable this weekend following his Flemington success last week and how he recovers will determine whether he’s spelled for The Championships or heads west.
Fierce Impact is nominated for the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in Perth next month.
“He’ll come back to Sydney at the weekend and we’ll get him into his usual routine,’’ he said.
“If he comes back and attacks the feed bin we might go to Perth but I can’t give him long off if he comes back to race in the autumn.’’
– Racing NSW