A trip south to Sydney next month for a shot at The Shorts 2016 could be on the spring agenda for Barry Lockwood’s mare Hidden Pearl who makes a return from injury in Brisbane on Saturday.
A winner of five of her 12 career starts to date, the lightly-raced daughter of Hidden Dragon debuts as a six-year-old at home at Eagle Farm Racecourse in this weekend’s $60,000 Tim Bell Memorial Benchmark 85 Handicap (1000m).
It will be her first run since Flemington last Melbourne Cup Day when 10th behind Pittsburgh Flyer in the Group 3 G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m) in the mud as the beaten favourite on November 5.
She suffered a leg injury during the run and has been on the sidelines recovering since.
Prior to that she enjoyed an October win over 1050m at Doomben and earlier last winter a third to Dublin Lass at the same track beaten only 1.2 lengths in the Listed Bright Shadow Handicap (1200m).
Lockwood is looking forward to her first-up run where apprentice Bridget Grylls will use her claim to get the stakes placed mare into Saturday’s sprint on just 49kg from barrier three in the 12-starter field.
“We have taken our time getting her back,” Lockwood told Racenet.
“She had four months in the paddock and then five months back in the stables where she was given an easy build-up.
“She has had a couple of jump-outs and gone well but you don’t know until they race.”
Lockwood also has plenty of faith in chosen hoop Grylls.
“She had a golden run when she had a three kilogram and two kilogram claim, but I think she has the talent to be a top rider and just needs the opportunities,” he said.
“Hopefully Hidden Pearl can get her back into the limelight.”
Hidden Pearl has won two of her three previous first-up runs and boasts a stellar record over the short distance (7-4-1-0), but she is yet to race at the recently renovated Eagle Farm track.
The light weight should play nicely to her advantage fresh however, as will her previous form on rain-affected tracks.
Eagle Farm is currently rated a Soft (6) after heavy mid-week rainfall and Hidden Pearl has had three wins from four starts on that kind of going.
All going to plan Lockwood is hoping to take the mare down to New South Wales in September for a raid on the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
He named the $200,000 Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on September 17 as her likely target down there on George Main Stakes Day.
“She still has a couple of wins left in restricted class in Brisbane. If she goes well on Saturday there is another race for her in a fortnight,” Lockwood said.
“Then if she goes well in both there are races such as The Shorts in Sydney for her.”
Plenty of top sprinters have won The Shorts in recent years including Terravista (2014) and Rebel Dane (2015) last year.
The Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane also returns to racing this weekend taking on Peter & Paul Snowden’s star colt Capitalist in Sydney’s $175,000 Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at weight-for-age at Randwick.
Capitalist is odds-on favourite to win his first race since the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) in the autumn as a two-year-old.
While Randwick is likely to run as a Heavy track, co-trainer Peter Snowden hasn’t ruled Capitalist out just yet, the Written Tycoon three-year-old getting in on 51.5kg with Kerrin McEvoy to ride.
“He travels through it [wet ground] alright, but it’s when you let them off the bridle, you just don’t know,” he told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“He hasn’t been on what we’re going to be presented with Saturday, as far as how Heavy it will be, so you’re in the lap of the gods a bit.”
His biggest rival, Rebel Dane won The Shorts first-up last spring and finished third in the previous year’s Missile Stakes when resuming.
The galloper has an outstanding first-up record now (8-4-1-2), jumps from barrier two with Tommy Berry in the saddle and Portelli said he wouldn’t be going down without a fight.
“He’ll be in for a fight,” Portelli said. “That’s what he does.
“Capitalist is stepping up to open grade for the first time whereas my bloke has always raced against the best of the best.”
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