Low-key Deagon trainer James Lyons admits his heart will be pumping hard on Saturday when he saddles up his maturing galloper Drenalin in one of the feature races at Caloundra Cup Day on the Sunshine Coast.
Monashee Mountain five-year-old Drenalin was originally a dual acceptor across two states for Saturday, Lyons paying up for the gelding in both the $175,000 Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at Caloundra and the $100,000 Listed Civic Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill in Sydney.
After much deliberation, however, Lyons decided to withdraw Drenalin from the Civic Stakes showdown and concentrate on a stakes win at Caloundra.
“I think the Glasshouse is a race for horses on the way up like Drenalin,” he said.
With both races run over 1400 metres, the Glasshouse Handicap boasted a number of advantages for Drenalin including the fact the horse is already in Queensland having raced at Ipswich just a fortnight ago.
“I had a good look at both races,” Lyons said.
“The program behind the Civic Stakes was to possibly stay down (in Sydney) for the Winter Stakes (Listed, 1500m race at Rosehill on July 16).
“The way the Glasshouse field has panned out and the weather conditions, it’s worked out for us.”
On Ipswich Cup Day, Drenalin ran an eye-catching third beaten just half a length by winner Adnocon and runner-up Gundy Son in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m).
Despite both the Gerald Ryan-trained Adnocon and Robert Heathcote’s Gundy Son, winner of the Listed Chief De Beers at Doomben last month, both backing up in the Glasshouse Handicap, Lyons remains undeterred.
“He’s come out of the race very well and he’s certainly a lot fitter,” he said of Drenalin.
“I thought he had the Eye Liner won on the corner when he cantered to the front.
“He popped out three wide at the 600 metres and was travelling easy but he just died on his run.”
Lyons is confident Drenalin has the ability to turn the tables on his Eye Liner Stakes conquerors, as well as the grit to race competitively in the Glasshouse against other notable rivals including defending champion and the punter’s favourite Woorim ($5) and the in-form Mystical Grey ($6.50).
“I thought I had him perfect in the Eye Liner but he certainly raced like a horse that was one short,” Lyons said.
“The two runs in have certainly done my horse the world of good.
“No doubt he’s on the up, the way he’s been trained and the way the prep has unfolded.”
Heathcote’s Show A Heart five-year-old Woorim may be the reigning Glasshouse Handicap winner, but this year they are the 58.5kg top-weight of the field and have also drawn wide in barrier 13 of 18.
Drenaline will carry 55.5kg with Eye Liner Stakes rider retained Brad Stewart for the mount, but also suffered an early blow in the barriers coming up with the unfavourable gate 16.
The wider draw, however, is something Drenaline has the ability to overcome as he proved when winning his first black-type in the Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) at the Gold Coast in May of 2010 on slow ground.
“We’ve drawn 16,” Lyons said.
“Everyone is going to be chasing the middle of the ground there, the fence is no good and out wide is no good.”
With the chance of rain and a Slow rated track at the Sunshine Coast for Saturday, Lyons believes this will also work in Drenalin’s favour.
“The Sunshine Coast somehow when the sun’s out it (the track surface) still seems on the Dead side,” Lyons commented.
“As soon as this rain hits it now I think anyone doing the form will want to be looking at the mud runners.”