2015 Winter Challenge Distance Issue for Canny Ballad

Wyong Cup-bound gelding Canny Ballad will use Saturday’s Winter Challenge 2015 as a stepping stone to longer distance assignments this campaign despite the unsuitably short length of the Rosehill showdown.

Canny Ballad (outside)

Canny Ballad (outside) will run in Saturday’s 2015 Winter Challenge despite being suited to more distance. Photo: Steve Hart.

The John Thompson-trained son of Dream Ballad, turning six on Saturday, is set to be accepted into the field for this weekend’s feature race in Sydney – the $100,000 Listed Winter Challenge (1500m).

He runs second-up in the handicap clash after a disappointing ninth when beating home just one other runner in his resuming run, the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) run on a Heavy (9) Rosehill track on July 18, where he got caught at the back end of the field.

Canny Ballad is yet to win first-up but his record two runs in is more promising with two wins and a third from five previous second-up assignments.

Thompson though is warning punters away from his horse who hasn’t won a race since the Listed Albury Gold Cup (2000m) back in March last year.

While it has been a long time between drinks and the galloper’s form since his last victory has been hit and miss, there have been some standout runs including a second in last year’s Wyong Cup behind Multilateral.

Defeated under half a length in the black-type feature as a 12/1 with Kathy O’Hara in the saddle, Canny Ballad is now tracking towards a run in this year’s $150,000 Listed Wyong Gold Cup (2100m) on September 4.

With his pet distance being around 2000m, Thompson is aware Saturday’s 1500m will be short of his preferred but told Racing Ahead on Tuesday morning it fit well in his preparation.

“I would wait for him for the start after,” he said.

“He needs to get over a bit of ground and his aim is the Wyong Cup, which he ran second in last year.

“1500 metres on Saturday will just be too short for him, but once he gets up to 1800 the start after and the Wyong Cup the start after that he will come right into his own.”

Thompson also has in-form Pendragon five-year-old, also six on Saturday, Dragon Flyer nominated for the Horse’s Birthday meeting in Sydney this weekend.

The gelding, who comes off a good second behind Forget in a BenchMark 75 over 1350m at Rosehill, is nominated for another race of the same conditions but run over his pet distance of 1400m.

Both of Dragon Flyer’s two previous wins have been over 1400m and came back-to-back at Mudgee and Goulburn respectively back in May and June of last year.

His strong recent performances however have Thompson hopeful he can break the drought with a third win this weekend.

“Dragon Flyer is at the top of his game and he has his foot on the till,” he said.

“He is not far off a win and on Saturday he will be down in the weights again with a better chance on a drying track.”

Stay tuned to Races.com.au for the full Winter Challenge Day fields out shortly.

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