An infrequent visitor to town these days, Group 1-winning trainer Tim Donnelly cannot remember the last time he had three runners in Sydney on the same afternoon.
The former city-based trainer relocated to Wagga Wagga in 2004 and remains selective in testing his horses in metropolitan grade.
But Donnelly, who won the 1998 George Ryder Stakes with Quick Flick, finds himself with a trio of runners at Rosehill on Saturday in two-year-old Lunar Shoes, Highway Handicap hopeful Miss Kirribilli and diminutive mare Dolphina.
He admits he can’t recall the last time he had such a strong hand in Sydney on a Saturday.
“Probably not this century,” Donnelly said.
Lunar Shoes heads to Rosehill after breaking his maiden when he led throughout on his home track of Wagga last start.
It was his first time in blinkers, and they will stay on for his city test.
Donnelly opted for the gear change after the youngster rattled home for fourth on debut at Wagga after missing the start, then showed inexperience when racing on the speed and finishing third against older horses at Albury.
Lunar Shoes has continued to please him at home, earning himself a shot at Saturday’s ATC Bookmakers Recognition Day Handicap (1400m).
“Obviously he is coming up in a lot stronger race, he is running against horses who have already won in the city,” Donnelly said.
“But he is improving, and we may as well give him a crack at it now.”
Miss Kirribilli has also shown promise to win two of her first three starts and while her victories have been on rain-affected tracks, Donnelly is keen to see how she measures up on a good surface in the Highway Handicap (1200m).
Dolphina rounds out his team in the Furphy Handicap (1800m) as the rank outsider of the field, but the trainer would not be shocked to see her figure in the placings.
The mare has not missed a top-three finish at her past five starts in the bush and Donnelly believes she is racing better than ever.
“She is only a tiny little thing, but she absolutely tries her heart out,” he said.
– RAS NewsWire