Eagle Farm-based trainer Kelly Schweida is confident the change of gear they have opted for with their smart Stratum colt Epic for this Saturday’s Sunshine Coast Guineas at Caloundra will prove the winning move.
Three-year-old Epic earned a shot at stakes glory in the $100,000 Listed Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) on Caloundra Cup Day after their hard-fought victory in the TL Cooney Handicap (1350m) at Ipswich last start.
With Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Chris Munce in the mount, Epic held on to narrowly defeat Fire Up Fife in the Ipswich race a fortnight ago.
Although Munce has opted to turn down the ride on Epic in the Sunshine Coast Guineas in favour of being aboard the Kelso Wood-trained Queensland Guineas runner-up Benny’s Buttons, Schweida remains confident of their horse’s ability.
In a move from Schweida, Epic will race with the blinkers off and winkers on for the Guineas assault, which will be the promising galloper’s first attempt at a mile.
“He overraced when he won at Ipswich but still did a good job to win,” Schweida said.
“Had he drawn an alley on Saturday I probably would have left them (the blinkers) on but he’s got barrier 12 this time.
“This is a lot stronger field and I’m hoping the winkers will help him settle a bit better.”
Munce was convinced in the TL Cooney that Epic was crying out for more distance, saying after the race that “going up to 1600m is probably not a bad idea.”
The hoop also said he believed that the more spacious Caloundra track will suit Epic and see them improve after having run and won on the notoriously tight circuit at Ipswich.
“He’s trained on well since his Ipswich win and the set weights suit him,” Schweida, who is also unconcerned about the pending wet weather for Saturday, said.
“This is a lot stronger field then he met at Ipswich but a wet track won’t worry him.”
Epic is rated a $9 chance in the Sunshine Coast Guineas markets after drawing barrier 12, narrow favourite for the 3YO feature being the Michael Moroney-trained Victoria galloper Shenzhou Steeds at $5.50.
Benny’s Buttons in barrier 10 is the $6.50 second elect.
Taking over the ride on Epic is former New Zealand rider Michael Walker, who will be partnering with the horse for the first time in the Guineas.
A good performance from Epic in the Sunshine Coast Guineas on Saturday and Schweida will look towards the $40,000 Grafton Guineas on Ramornie Handicap Day, July 13.
“If he runs well I’m thinking of sending him across the border for the Grafton Guineas in a few weeks,” Schweida confirmed.