Crafty Bid to Earn Metropolitan Handicap 2011 Win

Promising mare Crafty Irna will resume racing at Royal Randwick this Saturday as her locally-based trainer Ron Quinton embarks on a campaign aimed at the 2011 The Metropolitan Handicap.

Four-year-old Crafty Irna is a dual winner from her 10 career starts to date, the daughter of Starcraft having broken her maiden status last March at Hawkesbury before becoming a Black Type title holder with her win in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April.

Quinton stepped Crafty Irna up to elite level company just seven days after her Group win, but on a badly rain-affected Randwick track she only managed to finish 12 ½ lengths away seventh behind Absolutely in the Group 1 AJC Oaks (2400m).

“She won the Adrian Knox then had to back up a week later in the Oaks under terrible conditions, it was a tough run for her,” Quinton said.

“I think she stayed the distance alright, it was just the conditions on the day and the fact she raced a week earlier, it was a combination of a few things.”

She is now set to return to race conditions to kick-start a Sydney Spring Racing Carnival campaign targeting the $400,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 1 – Epsom Handicap Day.

Crafty Irna is accepted for Randwick Race 8 this Saturday, the $70,000 Randwick Betting Auditorium Handicap (1400m), and will be ridden by ace hoop Corey Brown from barrier five, in one gate from her original draw of six following the early scratching of #7 Nice And Neat (br.4).

Quinton gave Crafty Irna one trial at Randwick back on July 19 when she finished a close third over 728 metres, but he is knows she will likely need the run on Saturday before reaching peak fitness.

“I’m very happy with the way she’s come back,” he said.

“She looks well, she is still a bit ‘wintery’ in the coat but she’s coming along nicely.

“She is only pretty lightly raced so I’d expect her to go forward on what she’s done.”

In the latest Luxbet betting markets for Saturday’s showdown, Crafty Irna is rated a $13 chance to upset the early favourites the Gai Waterhouse-trained Daintree Road ($5.50) and Chris Waller’s Zakynthos Imprintz ($6).

“We’re hoping to head towards the Metrop,” Quinton confirmed.

“Sometimes it is a step up from three to four but time will be the only thing that will tell us that.”

The Metropolitan Handicap 2011 nominations will close on Monday September 26 followed by the final field of acceptances being released on Wednesday September 29.

Other gallopers likely to contest this year’s The Metropolitan include Gai Waterhouse’s Reuben Percival and 2010 Randwick Guineas runner-up Viking Legend.

Waterhouse described Al Akbar five-year-old and last-start winner of the Stayer’s Cup (3200m) at Rosehill Reuben Percival as a Group 1 horse in the making and confirmed they would be one of a number of her stable runners to be entered for The Metropolitan.

“All my group one horses will go straight to Melbourne, most of them won’t race here (in Sydney) and the horses I’m making into that, the Reuben Percivals and those horses, will be heading for the Metropolitan,” Waterhouse said.

Meanwhile Warwick Farm trainer Ross Simpson will use The Metropolitan as a guide to whether Viking Legend is worthy of a trip to Melbourne for the Victorian spring features this season.

“We might run him in the Metropolitan here before Melbourne and that will tell me whether he stays,” Simpson said.

“It’s an open book at the moment.

“But he’ll be a lot better once he gets to 1800 or 2000 metres.”

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