Trainer Danny Williams rates Bandi’s Boy his best prospect for a couple of years to give the Country Championships a shake and he’s using Tuesday’s $250,000 Barn Dance (1300m) at Royal Randwick to ground the lightly raced horse.
What better way to test a horse’s credentials for next year’s Championships than to take on horses that’ve been there before.
Bandi’s Boy has only raced five times and recorded his second career win in a Highway at Randwick on October 28 and Williams said, as talented as he is, he’s still got plenty to learn.
“Whatever he’s doing now I think given a short break he’s going to come back better,’’ he said.
“He’s improving all the time and he’s doing more right every day.
“I think he is looking for 1400m, whether it comes too early at that level I’m not sure.
“He’s got the ability to be winning and I feel confident he’s going to be right in it with the light weight.”
The Barn Dance contains two Kosciuszko winners in Art Cadeau and Handle The Truth, Art Cadeau is also a Country Championships winner, plus last year’s Barn Dance quinella Fender and Cavalier Charles.
After originally planning to tackle the Highway on Golden Eagle Day at Rosehill, Williams said with 52kg and an inside barrier it’s a better set up for Bandi’s Boy, $6.50 with TAB on Sunday, to test his mettle against some of country racing’s hard heads.
“We looked at it, we spoke to the handicapper and they said he’s only going to get eight or nine ratings points if he wins and given the prizemoney and rain around, and a really nice gate, we thought why not have a go,’’ he said.
“He’s in with a really good chance.”
Of course Bandi’s Boy’s second-up Highway win came after an extended break due to what was very close to being a career ending injury.
He produced a strong finish to win that 1200m race from worse than midfield and an extra 100m will be right up his alley.
“He’s more a 1400m horse, we thought that of him last preparation but mentally he wasn’t there,’’ Williams said.
“He tore the tendon almost off the hind foot and that’s why he’s been out for a long time.
“He’s come back from a pretty severe injury, after this race we can perhaps put him in the paddock for the Country Championships.”
The Country Championships Final (1400m) is run for $1 million for the first time in 2024 with the regional qualifying series due to kick off in February.
Marsabit earned his place in the $750,000 Little Dance (1600m) with second placings in both the Albury and Orange Cups earlier this year.
He’s an outsider for the Big Dance consolation given his ordinary form this time in, out of sorts since winning over 1800m at Rosehill in April, and Williams said he’ll need a wet track to be most effective.
“He’s not really a miler, he’s really looking for 2400m,’’ he said.
“The other day he pulled extremely hard and was very fresh. If we could get a soft 6 or soft 7 I would expect a better run from him but he does need to put one in.”
Group 1 winner Shelby Sixtysix has barrier one in the $300,000 Precise Air Choisir Handicap (1100m) and while he finished last in the Sydney Stakes it was a forgive run according to Williams.
He did show signs of form with a close up seventh in the Group 2 Gilgai two starts ago and if there’s give in the ground come his race then Williams says he can be competitive.
– Racing NSW