David Payne hasn’t had the biggest of two-year-old season in 2011 but that could change in the upcoming months with a couple of good prospects on show at Rosehill today.
Cocky Raider has already enjoyed a bit of success this year and he’ll be joined by stablemate Bushcraft in the Masterton Homes Handicap over 1400m.
If they can perform well here a trip north beckons with a start in the TJ Smith at Eagle Farm Racecourse.
Cocky Raider is the punters pick but that’s largely due to the fact we’ve seen more of him, Payne himself isn’t so sure.
“The other horse (Bushcraft) is a nice improving colt,” Payne said.
“He’s been on a couple of wet tracks and I think he will also appreciate a dry track.
“I don’t think there’s much between them.”
Cocky Raider has only won the single race in five starts but had never been too far away until beaten 10 lengths on a heavy track last start in the Champagne Stakes.
He’s had a four week break since that run and he’ll be more like the horse which ran tight seconds in both the Group 3 Ballieu Handicap and the Listed Fernhill Handicap before that.
“He is fit and well and I’ve got a set of blinkers on him tomorrow,” Payne said.
“He would probably have to win to go to Queensland for the TJ Smith, so that’s his test tomorrow.”
Payne has excuses for his last Group 1 start and it’s probably fair enough with only a week break between runs proving too much to ask.
That’s the reason the Sire’s Produce Stakes has been ruled out as an option with Payne wanting to keep him as fresh as possible.
“He would only go up for the TJ,” he said.
In addition to the fitness the wet track was another contributor and the mail is the dryer the better for Cocky Raider.
In terms of Bushcraft a win here could also book a Brisbane campaign with Payne keeping his options open going into the race.
On debut he struggled with a heavy track but still fought on for a third at Randwick before then running third again last start behind Chris Waller’s Subarc at Kensington.
“If he steps up I would go to the TJ as well. I’ve nominated him,” Payne said.