Benalla trainer Wayne Nicholls is hoping his gallant gelding Diplomatic Force can be a competitive force up against the more favoured sprinter’s in the The Goodwood at Adelaide this weekend.
A $26 outsider in the markets for the capacity 20-starter plus one emergency field for the $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on Sunday, Oamaru Force six-year-old Diplomatic Force is a confirmed as a starter thanks to an auspicious weather forecast.
Diplomatic Force was scratched from Thursday’s Town Plate (1200m) at Wagga with Nicholls pressing on to chase an elite level dream in The Goodwood with the Morphettville track tipped to be firm come Sunday.
“It (Morphettville) is a longer drive than Wagga but I don’t mind,” Nicholls said.
“The weather looks like it is going to be okay and it would be nice for this horse to win a race like The Goodwood.
“He has been a work in progress with all his problems but I think he has shown that he deserves to win a big race like that.”
Diplomatic Force has started 31 times to date for six wins and eight minor placings.
Three years ago as a three-year-old they ran in The Goodwood for the first time finishing a game third to 2008 winner Shadoways in the pinnacle Adelaide sprint having come off a Group 2 win in that year’s Yallambee Classic.
The following year Diplomatic Force was given another crack at The Goodwood glory, but could only manage to finish five lengths away ninth to Takeover Target.
A dual Group winner, along with the 2008 Yallambee Diplomatic Force also won the 2009 Group 3 RN Irwin Stakes at Morphettville.
Their latest win came in the $75,000 The BIG6 Handicap (1200m) at Flemington in February, from which they went on to run a game second behind Avenue in this year’s RN Irwin Stakes.
Last start Diplomatic Force finished seventh to fellow Goodwood rival Streetcar Magic in the Group 3 DC McKay Stakes (1100m) on April 16, still a credible effort with only three lengths separating them and the winner.
“Last start he got buffeted from pillar to post for the first 400 metres of the race and just didn’t let down like he can, but he seems really good now,” Nicholls said.
On Sunday Diplomatic Force is set to jump from the ideal barrier two draw, ridden by Craig Robertson at 54kg.
“The beauty for him is that he gets into The Goodwood without a penalty,” Nicholls said.
“He hasn’t had a weight like it since the (2008) Stradbroke (53kg) and when he ran second in the Dermody Stakes (54kg) as a two-year-old.”
With the speed likely to be further out as many of the top-rated sprinters have drawn double-digit barriers including Crystal Lily (11), Shrapnel (10), Toorak Toff (16) and Ortensia (12), Diplomatic Force will have to be ridden to perfection to feature.
“He will need a bit of luck from that gate but I think there will be plenty of speed on and that will suit him,” Nicholls said.
Two horses dominate The Goodwood markets with Golden Slipper winning filly Crystal Lily at the top of the odds paying $5.50 followed by the Mark Kavanagh-trained Yallambee Classic victor Shrapnel at $7.
The two three-year-olds are currently the only runners at single-figure odds to become the Goodwood winner as they face a field full of older rivals.