Saturday’s Golden Pendant 2016 favourite First Seal has the right barrier to return to winning form according to her hoop Blake Shinn.
Shinn has partnered the John Thompson-trained mare for three of her four runs this year, including the first-up victory in February’s Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m).
He also rode the now five-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock twice in 2014 including her successful Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) – Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) double defeating glamour mare Winx in both.
In 2015 Shinn and First Seal partnered up three times for another Group 2 success in the Surround Stakes (1400m) as well as the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) second to Plucky Belle.
James McDonald took over in the saddle for her other elite level placing that autumn when the beaten odds-on favourite a neck away second to Fenway in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
First Seal hasn’t raced since her distant 12th to Winx in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m), but Thompson confirmed she had come on well since they’d discovered a fractured split bone in the mare.
She has trialled twice in the lead-up to her spring kick off in Saturday’s $400,000 Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) where Shinn is keen to reunite with the 58kg top weight.
He rates her barrier three of 10 draw in the set weights plus penalties clash as ideal and even under the kilos, thinks the classy mare can continue her good record when fresh (4-2-1-0).
“It’s great to have her back at the races,” Shinn told Racenet.
“She has the right draw and maps perfectly so I’m hoping her class can get her home first-up.”
The latest Golden Pendant odds at Ladbrokes.com.au tell the same tale of class prevailing over fitness, First Seal the $3.30 favourite to get the job done after her strong three length trial win at Randwick in the wet over 1200m at the start of the month.
A further four runners in the Golden Pendant field and markets are also under double-figures including the early mover Heavens Above ($5) who comes off a win in the Group 3 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at the track.
Her locally-based trainer Tim Martin knows the Street Cry five-year-old is spot-on form-wise, his sole concern being a possible lack of early pace for his noted backmarker.
“That is the slight concern and there is not much pace on paper at all,” Martin told The Daily Telegraph.
“First-up when they went slow and sprinted [in the Toy Show Quality] it didn’t suit her [when running fourth to Pearls] and that could be the same on Saturday.”
Martin also has plenty of respect for First Seal but hopes Heavens Above, second to Azkadelia in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) in the autumn, can improve going up to 1400m.
“[First Seal] is a very good horse and I’ve got a lot of respect for her and she has good form,” he said.
“It’s a good test for my mare but I’m confident going into the race.”
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