Dryden Sees Highway As Logical Step For Unbeaten Sister

Trainer Keith Dryden can take a bow with his placement of unbeaten mare Sister Moon to date and he’s now ready to test the waters in Saturday’s TAB Highway (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.

Trainer Keith Dryden (Pic: Steve Hart)

The four-year-old did dual accept in the BM78 Furphy Handicap (1200m), to safeguard against being second emergency in the Highway, but Dryden said he’s keen to give her the smaller class rise and take on country horses in the Class 3.

Sister Moon gave an indication of her promise by jumping from 1008m to 1400m second-up with five weeks between runs at the Wagga carnival to take her record to three wins from as many starts.

“I think she’s been pretty well placed,’’ Dryden said.

“I think she goes all right but I don’t think she is a champion, in that grade she should run capably.

“She’s been in her right grade and looked convincing. The thing that sticks in the back of my mind is she hasn’t been tested against this level yet so we’ll find out on Saturday.”

The form out of Sister Moon’s Wagga win has stood up with runner-up Zouatica winning easily at Queanbeyan last weekend while Battle Abby, who chased her home at the Sapphire Coast first-up, has also subsequently won.

She made her debut in June last year at Moruya, as a late season three-year-old, but went straight to the paddock with a minor issue as Dryden felt the patient approach would serve her well.

The two wins since that break would suggest it’s been the right move.

“She pulled up with a bit of a leg problem after her first win,’’ he said.

“I could have brought her back earlier but she was immature and we decided to give her plenty of time. The owners were happy enough to do that and we’re seeing the benefits of it.”

Dryden said in the aftermath of the mare’s second-up win he elected to bring her back 200m for her Highway debut where Tyler Schiller is the likely rider. Sister Moon opened $9 with TAB on Wednesday.

“It was a good effort but I sat down and had a good look at the run in the days after and decided dropping her to 1200m would be the go,’’ he said.

“I think she’d be better suited by the 1200m.”

Meanwhile, stable “icon” Handle The Truth isn’t out of the equation for a fifth shot at the $2 million The Kosciuszko later this year but for now Dryden wants to give him another look at 1500m at Rosehill.

The rising eight-year-old has only had one attempt at the trip, back in 2021 in the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude, but as a National Sprint winner and runner-up over the past two years he knows 1400m is no issue so he’ll take his place in the Precise Air Handicap (1500m).

Handle The Truth ran a gallant fourth behind Mnementh in the Wagga Town Plate after being forced to concede too much start from a wide gate.

“I thought he went fantastic at Wagga. I would have liked to see a nice inside barrier for him to get the 1500m but it’s not too bad,’’ he said.

“He’s been a great horse, he’s won $1.7m and this prep so far he’s got around $50,000 so he’s paying for himself.

“He’s a great horse and I love him to death, I won’t have anybody say anything bad about him.”

The gelding won the Kosciuszko in 2019, ran fourth in 2020, second in 2021 and last year he was slowly away and finished ninth behind Front Page.

Dryden said form will probably dictate whether Handle The Truth will appeal to a slot winner come September when the ticket draw takes place.

“We’ll see how he’s going at the time. I would think a lot of punters would say he’s had a couple of goes and wasn’t successful in the past couple of years but he’s available if anyone wants him,’’ he said.

– Racing NSW

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