John O’Shea’s classy young filly Steps In Time will use this weekend’s Hawkesbury Guineas as a stepping stone towards a Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign over the coming weeks.
A three-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer, Steps In Time is one of 14 gallopers set to contest the $150,000 Listed Hawkesbury Guineas this Saturday (1400m).
Drawn ideally in barrier four and due to be ridden by Christian Reith as one of the 53kg lightweights of the field, the lightly-raced Steps In Time has had just two career starts to date.
After winning a 1250m handicap at Canterbury on debut, she ran a close second to Red Tracer first-up in the Listed PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) on April 8.
O’Shea has named the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11 as a realistic aim for Steps In Time if she runs well on Saturday and takes out the Hawkesbury Guineas.
“She would be getting to a Stradbroke at about her fifth start in a race, but if she could win a couple of races in the next month they are going to be stakes races and she’ll qualify and run,” O’Shea said.
Steps In Time was one of 147 Stradbroke Handicap nominees this year that included surprise entry Black Caviar.
“She has got a profile to suggest she could be competitive in a race like that (the Stradbroke) with the right weight,” O’Shea said of Steps In Time.
“Three-year-old fillies that are competitive in good class races, such as the PJ Bell and Hawkesbury Guineas, with the weight advantage in a Stradbroke can be competitive.”
O’Shea enjoyed success in Queensland’s richest sprint race having trained 2003 Stradbroke Handicap winner Private Steer, who also won that year’s PJ Bell.
In-form jockey Christian Reith, aboard for Steps In Time’s PJ Bell Stakes run, is looking forward to continuing their association with the filly.
“I’m full of confidence and would be surprised if she wasn’t there right at the finish on Saturday,” Reith said.
“I was very surprised Red Tracer picked her up the other night (in the PJ Bell).
“But Red Tracer did have race fitness on her side.
“Saturday is a different story, she will sprint and I expect her to keep going.
“I think it will take a good one to beat her.”
Steps In Time is the clear $2.80 favourite in the current Hawkesbury Guineas betting markets.
Coming up trumps with the inside alley in the Hawkesbury Guineas barrier draw was the Marc Conners-trained Pimpala Secret due to be ridden by Greg Ryan.
Monashee Mountain gelding Pimpala Secret stepped up to stakes company for the first time when first-up at Warwick Farm on March 12 running a disappointing eighth beaten 10 lengths by Agister in the Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m).
Last start they showed huge improvement with the addition of blinkers for the first time, Pimpala Secret winning the Soldier’s Saddle (1400m) at Bathurst on Anzac Day.
While on paper barrier one looks like a blessing, Conners has his concerns that a predicted Heavy Hawkesbury track for Saturday’s stand-alone meeting could mean that being close to the fence will be more of a hindrance.
“You always like to draw a nice barrier and in the majority of cases barrier one is fantastic,” Conners said.
“But with the expected heavy track at Hawkesbury it’s a possibility one occasion I would have preferred drawing further out in the field.
“He (Pimpala Secret) is going to have to travel along the fence for the major part of the race which is likely to be cut up by his race.”
The Hawkesbury Guineas is scheduled as race seven on Saturday, not due to jump until 4:15pm (AEST).
“Not to worry, the horse is in great shape and we’re confident of being right in the thick of things at the finish,” Conners added.
Although needing a bit of luck from the inside, Pimpala Secret has commendable wet track form and should be able to let down in the wet without issue.
“He should have no problems with the wet track,” Conners said.
“He is rock hard fit and rearing to go.
“He’ll most likely sit behind the leaders and Greg Ryan (jockey aboard on Anzac Day) has been booked.”
Pimpala Secret is a $26 outsider in the Hawkesbury Guineas odds.
Drawn at the other end of the field in gate 12 of 14 for Saturday is the Colin Scott-trained Speediness to be ridden by Corey Brown.
A talented Testa Rossa three-year-old, last start Speediness won a 1600m showdown at Sandown Lakeside having jumped awkwardly and also striking interference back on February 23.
“He’s going super,” Scott said of Speediness.
“I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Speediness, another runner adept on a wet track, will wear blinkers for the first time in the Hawkesbury Guineas which should sharpen him up.
“We’ve drawn wide but that may end up being in our favour,” Scott said.
“By the time it gets to our race they’re going to have to start to scout wide because the track is going to get chopped up, you would imagine.”
Current Hawkesbury Guineas markets have Speediness at $9, equal odds with Roger James’ Kiwi raider Rasteau.
Other notable horses looking for a black-type win in this year’s Hawkesbury Guineas include the Brett Partelle-trained Torio’s Quest (barrier seven / $8) looking to improve on their last start eighth to Sea Lord in the Listed Darby Munro Stakes (120m) and return to their Magic Millions Guineas winning form from January, and the Anthony Cummings-trained Lucha Libre (barrier three / $11) unbeaten in their two career starts to date having won the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m) beating Levi’s Choice at Randwick on April 16.
The Hawkesbury Guineas is one of three black-type features running at Hawkesbury on Saturday along with the $150,000 Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) and the $150,000 Listed Darley Crown (1300m).
2011 Blacktown Workers Hawkesbury Guineas Field & Barriers
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||385X117416||SEA LORD||David Payne||Nathan Berry||11||56kg||85|
|2||17111X8||TORIO’S QUEST||Brett Partelle||Hugh Bowman||7||55kg||89|
|3||1X42226X1X||GIRESUN||Peter Snowden||Rod Quinn||14||55kg||78|
|4||15X213X891||PIMPALA SECRET||Marc Conners||Greg Ryan||1||55kg||76|
|5||X51152X574||CHASSE||Peter Snowden||Joshua Parr||2||55kg||75|
|6||X60150X513||KIRINATA||Paul Perry||Darryl McLellan||13||55kg||73|
|7||1X331X||SPEEDINESS||Colin Scott||Corey Brown||12||55kg||71|
|8||121X9192||AL’S GOLD||Mick Hood||Brenton Avdulla||9||55kg||70|
|9||41X2||RASTEAU||Roger James||Tommy Berry||8||55kg||68|
|10||671X45||BIG STORM||Bart Cummings||Brad Pengelly||5||55kg||66|
|11||0X194485X1||WOODROW||Barry Lockwood||Chris O’Brien||6||55kg||65|
|12||11||LUCHA LIBRE (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||Jay Ford||3||54kg||86|
|13||1X2||STEPS IN TIME||John O’Shea||Christian Reith||4||53kg||82|
|14||542634X23||SHADOW CARD||Garry White||Josh Adams (a)||10||53kg||–|