Kembla Grange trainer Michelle Ritchie is definitely not feeling blue ahead of her smart galloper Better Not Blue’s run in the 2016 Civic Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.
Ritchie has kept her Churchill Downs four-year-old lightly-raced this campaign with a carefully executed autumn – winter preparation that culminates on Saturday in the $100,000 Listed Civic Stakes (1350m).
“I am still really happy with him,” Ritchie told the Illawarra Mercury.
“He gets a lot of time off.
“He comes down to Berry and has a week off so it isn’t as though he is in work all the time.
“That seems to be suiting him at the moment.”
The gelding has a strong record at the Civic Stakes distance of two wins, a second and three thirds from nine runs.
While the four-time winner hasn’t been first past the post since a 1250m success at Canterbury last November, Ritchie is pleased with his form this time in including a solid effort at Rosehill on June 18.
“I like him over the 1350m and that was the only race I could find,” Ritchie said.
“I was surprised, I thought he wouldn’t get a run in it.”
Racing over the same track and distance as Saturday’s Civic Stakes, Better Not Blue was beaten under two lengths when fourth to Avonaco in his latest start carrying 59.5kg.
He gets the chance to fly under the 54kg minimum on the weekend, dropping notably in weight as he steps up in class for his maiden Black-Type run since a fourth in the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) in April last year.
Also working in Better Not Blue’s favour for the Civic Stakes is the likely rain-affected track at Rosehill, the proven wet-course performer boasting strong records on Soft (5-2-0-0) and Heavy (3-2-0-0) going.
“When I saw the noms, it is quite a strong field but there is a bit a give in the ground and that suits him best,” Ritchie said.
The headline Civic Stakes entries this Sydney Winter Racing Carnival include recent Eye Liner Stakes winner at Ipswich Ninth Legion who carries 59kg top weight if accepted, June Stakes third placegetter Oxford Poet who has stellar form over the distance (8-2-3-2) and Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) winner two back Snippets Land for Peter & Paul Snowden.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for the official Civic Stakes 2016 field and barriers out shortly, and don’t forget to head to Ladbrokes.com.au and quote the code BETBONUS to have your first deposit matched up to $500 in bonuses!