A proven Group 1 winner with wet track form and a good weight, there is plenty to like about the Matthew Smith-trained Hurtle Myrtle heading into Saturday’s 2012 Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick.
The field is down to 19 for this year’s edition of the $2 million Group 1 BMW Doncaster Mile (1600m) following the early scratcings of Hong Kong-bound King’s Rose, non-wet tracker Rekindled Interest and the injured Single.
While the latest Doncaster Mile betting markets at bookmaker.com.au are led by $6.50 co-favourites More Joyous, who may still be withdrawn if the track is too Heavy, and Randwick mile specialist Secret Admirer, Warwick Farm-based Smith believes his hopeful is at good odds.
Hurtle Myrtle has come into $11 to win the Doncaster Mile, the five-year-old Dane Shadow mare already a Group 1 winner thanks to her upset win over last year’s Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Choice in the Myer Classic over the Flemington mile last Victoria Derby Day.
It is a good form line too as Sacred Choice won the 2010 Myer Classic before her Doncaster success 12 months ago.
Saturday sees her race third-up for the season following a resuming ninth behind Gai Waterhouse’s stable ace More Joyous in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and a good fourth behind More Joyous again last start in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1500m).
“I experimented last time by not giving her too many runs because she seems to run well fresh,” Smith said.
“Not having a long preparation suits her so I’ve stuck to that plan.”
Drawn in barrier 14, coming into 12 with the scratchings, Hurtle Myrtle will be ridden by Glyn Schofield on Saturday for the first time this season.
For her two resuming runs she carried 57kg, equal with More Joyous, but on Saturday the handicap conditions of the Doncaster will work in Hurtle Myrtle’s favour.
While More Joyous carries 57.5kg Smith’s mare will have just 53kg on her back, a big advantage on a muddy and choppy track.
The soft track conditions also should be a non-issue for Hurtle Myrtle who won on a Heavy (8) at Canterbury back in July 2009, her only look at a Heavy track to date.
The only real question then is how she will handle the open-sex field coming up against the boys, Smith believing it’s the right time to test her.
“It’s a hard race but the timing is right for her,” Smith said.
“She’s more mature now. I’ve kept her against the mares purely because she was a bit immature and she wasn’t ready for open company.
“But first-up last preparation she was second in a sprint race against the boys and it was quite a good run.
“Doncasters are hard to win but I’m happy to be there with no weight and she likes wet tracks.”
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