This Friday will mark the two year anniversary since Arena gelding Whitefriars won the Group 2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley and their trainer Rick Worthington is hoping to commemorate that with another black type win this time in Sydney.
The now seven-year-old galloper has spent the majority of the past 24 months on the sidelines with injury and setbacks seeing them have just one run since their tight victory over Undeniably in the 2011 Australia Stakes in Melbourne.
Resuming after a spell spanning one year and 10 months Whitefriars was eighth to Adebisi when beaten five lengths, albeit having carried a hefty 61.5kg, in the Listed Razor Sharp Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm on December 22 in a run that wasn’t disappointing to Worthington.
“I was actually quite pleased,” he said.
“If you look at the mathematics of it, they walked the first 600m in 36 and ran 33.1 the last 600m so it was a mathematical impossibility to expect any more from him really.
“It was a better run than it looked.”
They showed they were ready to improve on that in their next run however boosting Worthington’s confidence with a good one and three quarter length trial win over 800m back at the Farm on January 15.
“It was impressive, we can kid ourselves and say it wasn’t but it was,” the trainer said of the trial.
“He’s run 45.4 with his ears pricked and Peter (Robl) was suitably impressed, as I was.
“But we’re not there yet.”
Whitefrairs isn’t quite up to vying for another Australia Stakes win this weekend, their 2011 win seeing them beat the likes of Australian Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy and Ortensia, however they will race under the lights in their native New South Wales having been nominated for the $100,000 Listed Canterbury Classic (1100m) at Canterbury Park.
“I am of the opinion he can get back to his best, but he’s got a few hurdles to overcome,” Worthington said.
“There is no doubt he is an amazing horse. His will to win and his fortitude and courage is just incredible considering what he’s been through.
“After two years off, it doesn’t just happen in two minutes.
“Two jockeys have been on him this prep, Jimmy Cassidy and Peter Robl, and I’ve asked them the question if I am kidding myself or throwing the horse to the wolves and they both basically said the same thing – that he feels fantastic and that he feels as good as he did.”
Worthington has been taken by Whitefriars since purchasing the flashy yearling from the 2007 William Inglis and Son Classic sales for $80,000 and hasn’t been disappointed with the sprinter going on to win over $618,000 in prize money to date.
“I was very impressed when I looked at Whitefriars at the sale,” Worthington said.
“I thought he had amazing power behind and he a walk that was just very sexy. I just thought ‘wow’ and so I really, really wanted to get the horse.”
Among the other more notable Canterbury Classic nominees are the Peter Snowden-trained duo of Skytrain and Sessions.
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