Winning the Group Three Cameron Handicap has been a blessing and a curse for Wild Chap, providing his connections with their biggest success but also attracting the scrutiny of handicappers.
The six-year-old went into the Newcastle feature with a benchmark of 79 and after accounting for the small six-horse field, emerged with a 95 rating.
Finding suitable races for Wild Chap since has been a tricky negotiation for trainer Brett Lazzarini, especially given the gelding’s most significant prior victory was in midweek grade.
“Until this preparation, his strike rate was 47 per cent – one in nearly every two starts he ran first, second or third,” Lazzarini said.
“He has fallen victim to the handicappers but that’s no different to any horse who is consistent.
“He’s finding it hard this time in due to his benchmark and he’s meeting dry tracks, you put him on a wet track and he’s three or four lengths better.
“But he’s a lovely horse, a stable favourite. You could ride him on a piece of cotton and every time you put a saddle on him, he runs an honest race.”
While he hasn’t managed a win since the Cameron Handicap in September, Wild Chap hasn’t been far away in several stakes races, including his first attempt at 2000m in the Wagga Cup when he finished less than three lengths from winner Wicklow.
He tackles a middle-distance again in the Listed McKell Cup (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday after finishing fourth behind Mach Schnell and Zoumon over 1800m at Rosehill last start.
“He’s only had the one go at 2000 metres and that was in the Wagga Wagga Cup and he wasn’t discredited, he ran it out,” Lazzarini said.
“He was unlucky the other day not to run third. I don’t think he would have beaten the first two, but if Robbie (Dolan) had any ounce of luck, he gets through and probably runs third.
“He’s a funny horse, he can be off the bit two-and-a-half (furlongs) from home and he just keeps finding.”
The McKell Cup is the feature on Saturday’s 10-race card and has attracted a field of 13, seven of them trained by either Chris Waller or Annabel Neasham.
Waller has four runners headed by topweight and Winter Cup runner-up Desert Icon while Neasham’s trio is led by Lord Mayor’s Cup victor Bois D’Argent.
– RAS NewsWire