The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Roger James’ in-form New Zealand galloper Firebolt is set to add a second Brisbane win to their winter carnival record when the five-year-old lines up in the Tattersall’s Mile at Eagle Farm this Saturday.
Twelve months ago James bought his Stravinsky gelding Firebolt over from Cambridge to Queensland for last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival, the horse running a game second behind Pennacchio in the Listed Centenary Classic Mile (1600m) on Winter Stakes Day.
This Saturday Firebolt is back for another Winter Stakes Day assault, this time taking on a crack field of sprinter-milers in the $100,000 Tattersall’s Racing Club Mile (1600m).
Firebolt has been in Australia since early May, his first-up run disappointing when they finished four lengths away 10th behind winner Humma in the Group 3 Queensland Chairman’s Handicap (2020m) at Doomben on May 14.
At their next race, however, Firebolt showed a brilliant return to form with a tidy victory over this weekend’s Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara hopeful and fellow Kiwi St Germaine in the Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1615m) at Doomben on May 21.
“I thought it was a good, solid effort,” James said of Firebolt’s win in the Lord Mayor’s Cup.
Now James is giving him the chance to win back-to-back black-types in Brisbane, Firebolt the early $4.40 favourite to take out this year’s Tattersall’s Mile after earlier concerns over the horse’s fitness.
Following their Lord Mayor’s Cup success, Firebolt suffered a winter setback developing a splint on the outside of his off front shin bone.
James, however, is adamant that Firebolt is back to full fitness and is the one to beat in the Tatt’s Mile after they ran a strong 1400m hit-out at Eagle Farm earlier in the week.
“We’ve iced the splint daily and it’s settled down now,” James said.
“His work was good….and I know he is ready to go again, although the weight makes his task difficult.”
Allocated the 58kg top-weight of the 18-starter plus one emergency Tattersall’s Mile field, Firebolt is still well positioned to salute for the punters as they carried 59kg to victory in the Lord Mayor’s Cup last start.
Ideally suited to the mile, Firebolt has also drawn to perfection and will jump from barrier two with champion hoop Corey Brown in the mount.
The only reservation James has over Saturday’s showdown is Firebolt’s ability to settle, but he hopes the nice barrier draw will be the key for Brown to get the job done.
“He’s not the easiest horse to ride sometimes,” James admitted.
“He doesn’t have to lead certainly (on Saturday).”
Main dangers the Kiwi raider will face in the Tatt’s Mile on Saturday include John Morrisey’s Pentire gelding Lake George, last start Strawberry Road winner Willy Jimmy and the Peter Moody-trained Lonhro mare Tampiko.
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