There are only so many races on the calendar that ideally suit a horse like Sweet Thomas so trainer Matt Smith is hoping his evergreen stayer can capitalise on finding one at Randwick on Saturday.
It’ll be almost a year to the day since the nine-year-old’s last victory when he steps out to defend the Bookmakers Recognition Day Stayers Cup (3200m) and Smith said as far as his form and credentials go he can’t be faulted.
Sweet Thomas is one of only two horses in the race to have run over two miles, the other being Terwilliker who has contested the last two editions of the Stayers Cup, and the only winner. He’s also run fourth in the Group 1 Sydney Cup and in the Sandown Cup at the 3200m.
He’s chased home Knights Order at his past two starts but the fifth in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) and third in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (3200m) tell Smith he’s ready to strike.
“He just finds form when he gets over the right distance,’’ Smith said.
“The more of a staying test it is the better chance he has and it’s highly unlikely any of these are going to make it a true two mile staying race.
“I’d love to see him in a more prominent position but he doesn’t seem to get out of the gates. Last year there were a couple of horses in there that put a bit of tempo in it and made it a good gallop.
“His run in Sydney before he went to Queensland was very good and his run in Queensland was good. It’s just whether he can carry the weight.”
If successful, Sweet Thomas will match former Snowden stayer Plot Twist’s (2017, 2018) feat of back-to-back victories in the Stayers Cup and without winning a race in between.
He’ll again carry 60kg but Smith said the difference this year is the weight differential with the horses on the limit, including the one he sees as the main threat, using apprentice claims.
It means he’ll concede 10kg to the Joe Pride-trained race favourite Kaapfever.
“The horse he beat last year in this race is not as good as Joe’s horse that’s for sure so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes,’’ Smith said.
“It’s going to be tough, I think the weight might get him this year but some horses seem to be able to carry it and he has proven he can.”
Smith said lack of match practice cost handy mare Tricky Gal when she resumed from a two month break earlier this month but that will be no excuse come the Listed $150,000 Taylor Civic Stakes (1400m).
The five-year-old, who has recorded five placings at Group level this season including two at Group 2 grade, drops 6.5kg on her seventh behind New Arrangement on June 12.
“I felt going into the race she was going to need it,’’ Smith said.
“I was feeling that first-up on a heavy track she might feel the pinch a bit. I don’t know whether later in the day she was in the right part of the track but she just peaked on the run the last 150m.
“We don’t have to worry about that on Saturday. If she can find that Savatiano form and those couple of early runs last preparation it puts her right in the race.”
Of his other runners at Randwick Smith said it wouldn’t shock him if Milk Man ran a cheeky race in the Keith Free OAM Handicap (1800m) while stablemate Flambeur is still in need of time.
The duo are the rank outsiders with Milk Man $51 and Flambeur $126 with TAB on Thursday.
“If you went back through Milk Man’s form he’s run a couple of decent races in Sydney against good horses so he’s getting up to his right trip,’’ he said.
“I don’t know if he’s 100 per cent spot on but he’s getting there.
“Flambeur is a work in progress, he will measure up for sure but he’s in the acclimatisation stage and until we work out how to ride him we put a question mark against him for the time being.”
– Racing NSW