NEW South Wales trainers sometimes delight in the misery of their Victorian counterparts over a long and bleak winter, but not Newcastle trainer Darren Smith, who has headed south with his grand sprinter Atomic Force in the search of firmer tracks.
Smith said yesterday that he sent the dual group 1-winning sprinter to Caulfield a few weeks ago to prepare for today’s listed Carlyon Stakes at Moonee Valley after a frustrating run at his Broadmeadow Racecourse base in Newcastle.
”The weather up here has been disgraceful and the tracks are waterlogged, so we put him on a float to get him ready down there,” Smith said. ”The facilities at Broadmeadow are being upgraded but we’ve had no Pro-Ride track and no grass tracks to work on, so we thought we’d make use of the facilities at Caulfield to get him up and going.”
In the absence of super sprinters Black Caviar and Hay List, a number of the big sprints in Melbourne this spring are up for grabs and few older or younger sprinters can rival the seven-year-old’s record, highlighted by group-1 wins in last year’s Galaxy, and last summer in New Zealand’s premier sprint, the Railway Stakes. ”He’s not yet at his top but he’s given me every indication that he’s exactly the same as he was last season,” Smith said. ”He’s a seven-year-old but he’s still fresh and keen as ever.”
Atomic Force worked at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning under today’s rider, Craig Williams, and while Smith said the gelding was on track for a winning return, he would benefit from today’s outing. ”But he’s a good fresh horse and handles all ground, so you’d expect him to be right there,” he said.
Atomic Force has never missed a place first-up in five previous campaigns and at his only run over the 1000-metre course at Moonee Valley finished third, beaten by a nose behind group-1 winners Buffering and the ill-fated Crystal Lily.
A five-times wet track winner, he will be suited by today’s surface, which was last night rated a slow (6).
Smith figures he has only had about five runners in Melbourne since his first venture south in his early 20s. That day, in 1996, he saddled Pimpala Prince in the Ascot Vale Stakes. ”We had him ready to run the race of his life and he ran into a horse called Encosta de Lago,” he said.
Also making a raid on the early Melbourne sprints is Canberra trainer Matthew Dale, who saddles Unanimously in the $120,000 race. A Melbourne maiden in four previous attempts, Dale said the five-year-old was well placed to turn in his best run after experiencing the Moonee Valley track for the first time earlier this month when a game second to the in-form Freereturn.
”Saturday’s race is tougher than last start but he is better placed with the experience around Moonee Valley,” Dale said. ”He drew the outside nine [barrier] last time, so from barrier five and being third-up he should go well.”
It was at the same Moonee Valley meeting last year that two prominent spring horses emerged through the 1500-metre race, this year called the SAJ Catercare Group.
Finishing second in the race was subsequent Turnbull Stakes winner December Draw, while unplaced was eventual Caulfield Cup runner-up Green Moon. There are a number of stayers coming through today’s race. Last year’s Ebor winner Moyenne Corniche and last season’s group 2 Herbert Power Handicap winner Shewan run first-up, while owner Lloyd Williams will start two cups hopefuls second-up in Tanby and Excluded.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.