A combination of wide barriers and uncertainty over track conditions has trainer Matthew Smith keeping his options open with several of his scheduled runners at Randwick.
Smith has paid up for five horses but only two are sure to take their place – Astero, who needs to go to the races despite his 63.5kg impost in the Furphy Handicap (1100m), and recent acquisition Royal Robbins in the Hitotsu New To Arrowfield Handicap (1800m).
It will be a case of watch and wait with his remaining trio.
Smith wants a rain-affected track for First In Line, emergency Festival Dancer needs a scratching to make the field, while the progressive Time Quest has drawn poorly.
However, if the latter does take his place in the Bivouac @ Darley Handicap (1600m), Smith is keen to see how the former UK galloper measures up to Saturday grade.
After kicking off his Australian career with a victory at Newcastle, Time Quest finished hard from back in the field to beat all but subsequent midweek winner Allasandra at the same venue last start.
While still raw, he is showing Smith all the hallmarks of being a handy horse.
“When we first got him, he’d had a couple of placings overseas and when we started to work him, I was like, ‘geez he’s green’,” Smith recalled.
“He’s a big-galloping horse. He’s got a fair bit of stamina on his dam’s side and he’s only in his first prep here so there’s a lot of improvement to come.
“He’s got a good turn of foot and he’s been trouble free, he’s got a good temperament and he’s doing everything right.
“I would ride him quiet and for a bit of luck from barrier 15 if I run him.”
Smith predicted a much more competitive showing from Royal Robbins, who he felt had excuses after failing to beat a rival home at his Australian debut last month.
The former French galloper has subsequently trialled sharply and should appreciate a distance rise to 1800m.
“He was back in a race that was fairly slowly run, they sprinted home quickly and he was behind a horse that was going nowhere,” Smith said.
“He has trialled very well since so I think you’ll see him bounce back on Saturday, although again, he’s drawn awkwardly (barrier 12).”
– RAS NewsWire