While Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Racing operation and their chief trainer Peter Snowden attempt a five-from-five whitewash in this year’s juvenile Group 1’s at Brisbane on Saturday, they will also be keeping an eye on the performance of Skytrain at Randwick.
Five-year-old Lonhro gelding Skytrain resumes racing after a lengthy six month spell when they run first-up in the $100,000 Listed June Stakes (1100m) on Saturday.
After a promising start to their career, Skytrain remains lightly-raced for their age having had just 14 starts that have produced five wins and the same number of minor placings.
Snowden stepped Skytrain up to black-type racing for the first time at Gosford in June of last year, but it was a disaster result for trainer, horse and jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
McEvoy, who has the mount aboard promising two-year-old Benfica in the $500,000 Group 1 TJ Smith (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday, broke a vertebra in his back after Skytrain fell in the straight in the Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m).
The horse was sent to the paddock after that race, bought back in the spring where they ran an eye-catching third to Geared Up in a handicap over 1200m at Rosehill on November 13.
At their next run, however, Skytrain finished dead last behind Purrpurrlena at Randwick’s Kensington track on November 27.
After a fast finishing effort running second in a 1030m barrier trial at Rosehill last Friday, Snowden is hoping the bad luck is behind Skytrain and that Saturday will be a turning point for the brave galloper.
Jockey Josh Parr, son of champion hoop Steven Parr, reunites with Skytrain for the June Stakes having ridden the horse for back-to-back wins at Rosehill in the autumn – winter of last year and was very happy to be on the horse again.
“I can’t wait to get back on him, I was rapt when my manager rang me on Sunday and told me I was riding him,” Parr said.
“I’ll probably be going into this race on him with a lot more confidence than with any other horse just because of the record I have on him.
“We just seem to combine so well.”
Aside from the successive wins at Rosehill, Parr has ridden Skytrain on two other occasions finishing third and second in Sydney in November of 2009.
“We had a real good partnership forming there about 12 months ago, he was in a real purple patch and I think he suits my style of riding,” Parr said.
“He allows me to be a little bit quieter on him in the first half of the race, ride him patiently and give him a crack at them late.
“That’s how I seem to ride my best and that’s how he rides his best so we get on well together.”
After Skytrain drew ideally with barrier three of nine for their much awaited return, Parr is confident he can get them over for their first stakes win.
“That (the barrier) will just make the situation so much easier for me,” he said.
“We’ll jump from the barriers and half the work will already be done.
“We’ll have cover, probably be about midfield, he’ll travel nicely and that will give him his chance to win.”
Skytrain is installed as the $5.50 third favourite for the June Stakes with Gai Waterhouse’s resuming 2010 Golden Rose runner-up Squamosa (barrier eight) the $2.80 top elect and the Joseph Pride-trained mare Ladys Angel (barrier nine) also well liked in the markets paying $4.60.
Ladys Angel, who most recently ran fourth behind the Peter Snowden-trained Kanzan in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on May 21, is also the first emergency for Queensland’s most prestigious race – the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) running at Eagle Farm on Saturday.