Wet Track No Worries For Tavi Time (Newcastle, Saturday)

Tavi Time has only raced on a heavy track once and that was nearly two years ago, but trainer Kris Lees is convinced the favourite for the $500,000 The Coast will handle whatever a Heavy 10 surface at Newcastle throws at him on Saturday.

“I didn’t have him when he raced on the heavy, but he’s got very good soft-track form and I’m going there believing he’ll handle the heavy,” Lees said.

“He’s bred to handle it, being by Tavistock. They generally get through it pretty well.”

The Coast favourite Tavi Time cruises home for Aaron Bullock at Newcastle. Image by Bradley Photographers

Tavi Time was trained by Gwenda Markwell when it ran sixth of 13 in a 2YO Maiden on a Heavy 8 track at Kembla Grange on July 16, 2022.

The horse was making its debut and the replay of the race shows him coming from near last on the home turn and being threaded through the field by jockey Jean Van Overmeire in the straight.

For a few strides he looks like being in the finish before dying on his run in the last 50 metres. The heavy track doesn’t appear to inconvenience him at all.

Markwell sadly passed away several months later after a battle with cancer and Tavi Time, now a four-year-old, has been trained by Lees for 10 of its 11 career starts for six wins and two seconds.

TAB rates the gelding as a $3.20 chance and favourite for The Coast, in which Lees expects highly-skilled apprentice jockey Dylan Gibbons to have him racing prominently from barrier five.

“He’s got a nice barrier so he should get a nice run either midfield or just forward of that,” Lees said.

“He’s still learning race manners so it helps that it won’t be a full field around him. He should run well.”

There were 12 acceptors for The Coast, but the field will be reduced by at least one because Lees said he would scratch his other acceptor – three-year-old filly Kind Words – and take her to Queensland to campaign there instead.

Tavi Time will be much better suited over the 1600m of The Coast than the 1400m of his last start, when he was fifth in the Provincial-Midway Championships Final at Randwick on April 13.

“In the horse’s defence we’ve kept him at 1400 metres for three runs now this preparation and to be fair he’s looking for further ground now,” Lees said. “He’ll get that opportunity with a month between runs going up to the mile.

“It was always the concern that the final of the Provincial-Midway might be a bit short for him and then he drew a bad gate and stepped slow, which meant we were too far back to trouble the winner.

“But he closed well in the race without really threatening. He didn’t lose interest which is the mark of a good horse. Most importantly, he came out of it well.

“Where his ceiling is I’m not sure. He’s found some nice-enough races along the way that he’s won, but it’s time now to test him in better grade and see where he sits.

“I think at some stage he’ll get 2000 metres and maybe beyond, but the mile of The Coast is a nice stepping-stone. It’s a good race for him.”

– Racing NSW

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