The spring could be Military Expert’s oyster if the youngster convinces trainer Annabel Neasham at Rosehill on Saturday that he should be pointed that way.
Neasham thought enough of the Redoute’s Choice colt to nominate him for the Group 1 Golden Rose in September and she won’t deny him the chance to get there if he can win the Elite Sand & Soil Handicap (1200m).
Military Expert was narrowly beaten on debut by King Of Sparta on the Kensington track earlier this month and as he approaches a rematch Neasham said the colt has muscled up since that first start.
“He’s been a colt I’ve always really liked but he was always going to be a better three-year-old type,’’ she said.
“I’m hopeful he does run well because he’s one of the nicer colts I have in the stable. I know it’s only off season but I think he will end up being well above average.
“He’d need to run very well to be thinking about something like the Up & Coming Stakes (at Randwick on August 14) but those races are on offer after this.
“It’s not really my style to take a maiden to a two-year-old race like this on a Saturday but he’s shown enough, and wasn’t far off winning, to want to roll the dice.”
Neasham expects Military Expert, $3.60 with TAB on Wednesday, to take plenty of improvement out of his debut given he weighs more than he did back on July 7.
She said an extra 50m and a bigger track are both pluses but the most significant factor in the colt‘s favour is the race experience.
“He’d only had the one trial and hadn’t had any jump outs at home prior to it, so he was quite raw going into the race,’’ she said.
“Take nothing away from the winner, he looks pretty smart, but he was probably a bit fitter than us going into it.
“I liked the way the other horse looked like it was going to whoosh past us but he stuck with it and it looked like he was coming again on the line.”
Military Expert is a $101 chance with TAB in the all-in Golden Rose market.
While he raced up outside the lead on debut Neasham was encouraged by Tommy Berry’s comments after that race giving him options from a tricky barrier.
“He has good gate speed and when Tommy got off the other day he said he thought you could ride him anywhere,’’ she said.
“But that tactical speed will help him in the future.”
Neasham unveils her latest import Blue Soldier in the Quayclean Handicap (1300m) after electing not to step him out on the heavy track last weekend.
The four-year-old has won two races, both on synthetic tracks, from 11 starts but has several Group placings and his Group 1 attempts include a 2.5 length seventh in the Breeders’ Cup in the USA in 2019.
“I think he is going to take a couple of runs for the penny to drop over here,’’ she said.
“I’m looking to build his confidence, he works like a horse that will get over a bit of ground. I’m not expecting him to win this weekend.
“The gate won’t be ideal because I think he is a horse that likes to roll a bit but he needs to kick off somewhere.”
All five of Blue Soldier’s trials in Sydney have come on soft 7 tracks or worse, his best effort a second to Probabeel in April, and Neasham is convinced his best will be seen on top of the ground.
Meanwhile, Zaaki returned to Warwick Farm on Monday and Neasham said everything appears to be on track for a return at this stage in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) on September 4.
But an issue with the timing of barrier trials, with Warwick Farm heats currently restricted to locally trained horses, has the potential to make his build up tricky and that of fellow Group 1 winner Mo’unga who was due to trial next week.
“It’s great to have Zaaki back in the stable,’’ she said.
“I’ve been taking him for his walks in the afternoon and he tows you around the place. He’s looking bright and well. He won’t take too long to come to hand.”
– Racing NSW