The 2013 Doncaster Handicap is there for the taking for Pierro. Sure he would have to set a weight carrying record for a three-year-old, but in reality he has 57kg on a 53kg limit. Shoot Out has 58kg which shows there is just a 5kg spread in the weights. In 1972 Gunsynd carried 9.7 (60.5kg) on a 7.1 (45kg) limit. That is a 15.5kg spread and a true handicap. Pierro is now the clear best horse in Australia and he does not race like a three-year-old. He races like a mature old entire, not a young colt. Also barrier 4 is a terrific barrier for Pierro’s racing style especially when some of the other good horses in the race have drawn so poorly. There is a big chance that Pierro will be off and gone by the time the likes of Secret Admirer (barrier 19), Red Tracer (barrier 21) and Norzita (barrier 17) get going in the straight.
Shoot Out last year was weighted at 1kg under More Joyous and was beaten a length. This year he is weighted with 1kg more than Pierro. Pierro has beaten More Joyous and Singo dodged this race conceding his mare could not beat Pierro, so surely Pierro beats Shoot Out? If it was only that easy!
Glass Harmonium is an interesting runner. He may not be the smartest horse in the world, but he gets out in front and is hard to run down. He, in the past, has held out some really good horses. If he loads, jumps and has his mind on the job, he can still be there with 100m to run. Can he beat Pierro at level weights? Probably not but he will put up a good fight.
Solzenitsyn is coming off a shocking run second up, but every horse deserves one forgive run. This Queensland gun has been crying out for the mile and for a handicap. His wins in Brisbane in the past have been spectacular and in Melbourne he beat More Joyous in a mile handicap and was narrowly beaten by Silent Achiever and Rangirandoo. He has class personified; he can lead or chase and he is beautifully weighted and is still improving. For mine, the clear next best in the race after Pierro.
Happy Trials, like Solzenitsyn has won a Group One mile handicap, the Emirates last year. No matter how bad horses like this are going, they always seem to peak for their pet distance under handicap conditions. Happy Trials was great in this race last year, and this year’s edition may even be a touch weaker. The Emirates winner is a definite chance.
And what about Alma’s Fury? He is always competitive over the mile and is always long odds. He is by stallion Refuse To Bend, and that sires’ progeny all seem to keep trying. There is no way Alma’s Fury won’t put in 100% and although his best is not good enough to get past Pierro, we as punters can relax in the knowledge that he will keep trying.
But it all comes back to Pierro. Sometimes we have to accept that the best horse in the race despite barriers, weight and opposition, is still the best horse in the race. Pierro is the best horse in the race and if he is ready (which is $1.01) he will be extremely hard to beat.
Verdict: Pierro to win and as this is the second most popular race in Sydney after the Slipper, the multiples always have great value. For $50, you can box half the field in a first four for 1%. If Pierro happens to lose and your first four gets up, it can pay anything. Last week there were two 50k first fours. There, in the past, in this race have been first fours that have paid $450,000. There is also the chance Pierro will win and the first four will pay $400. But the big box first four is at times a good play.
4th. A tie! Alma’s Fury and Glass Harmonium. One will be leading and one will be storming home. Can’t split them.
3rd. Happy Trials. Has been aimed at this race since 15 minutes after winning the Emirates.
2nd. Solzenitsyn. This fella just has so much talent. He too has won a Group One mile race and Rob Heathcote has been talking up the handicap races for weeks.
1st. Pierro. The best horse in Australia, with a good barrier, a fair weight and a trainer who won this race 4 years in a row in the 90s as well as last year and a few others in the 00s. When going for five in a row in 1998, Gai trained second and third to Catalan Opening at 50/1 (Bart!). Gai thinks Pierro is the best horse to walk through the gates at Tulloch Lodge since the horse that the place was named after and that includes Kingston Town. If he is this good, and he well may be, he should waltz this in.