He might be ‘bone lazy’ on the training track, but trainer Joe Pride expects his super sprinter Private Eye will turn it on when first-up with topweight in Saturday’s $1.5 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
Pride said at the Inglis Premier sale in Melbourne that despite Private Eye never revealing his true form on the training track, he feels certain the horse is ready to unleash over the 1200-metre straight course.
“He’s had the three trials to get him ready and none of them particularly stressful trials for the horse,” he said. “It was just a matter of ticking him over and increasing his fitness with each one. But he’s very much a race-day horse.
“What we see from him at the trials and on the training tracks is so far below what we see on the racetrack, it is quite astonishing.”
Private Eye has proved a wonderful return on investment for his owners who put in $62,500 as a yearling in 2019 and have since reaped about $6.2 million from his 24 starts to date.
Pride said he purposefully put Private Eye first-up into the Newmarket despite the fact that just one horse – Redkirk Warrior in 2017 – has been able to win the feature in the past 100 years at their first run from a spell.
“He’s a horse who has always gone very well fresh,” he said. “He won a Group 3 at Randwick there and he won the Gilgai (Flemington) first-up and that was quite a breathtaking win really.
“He ran 1:08.3s and beat Roch ‘N’ Horse, who eventually won the Darley (Champions Sprint).
“He’s going to have to carry 58 (kilograms) on Saturday but I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s coming into this and excited at the prospect of bringing him down. He’s going to be very hard to beat.
“He’s progressively got better each preparation and the only thing that has hampered him this time last year was the wet tracks. That’s the only slowing down in his progression at all throughout his career.
“I would imagine he will at least maintain doing what he did last time around and if he does that, I think he’s going good enough to win a Newmarket.”
Pride said after the Newmarket, Private Eye will race for the $5m G1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 1.
The trainer also confirmed that his veteran sprint star Eduardo has come through his narrow miss in last Saturday’s G1 Challenge Stakes (1000m) in great order.
“To be beaten such a narrow margin (by Passive Aggressive) was very disappointing,” he said. “You’d kind of rather get beaten half a length rather than half a nose.
“I was quite despondent 10 minutes after the race but then I put it all into perspective over the weekend. It was just good to have him back and performing at that level.
“He probably goes to the Galaxy. He’s probably a better chance of winning a Galaxy than a T.J. but he could do both.”