The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Comeback king Jim Byrne is confident he can still secure a win for the punters in Saturday’s J.J. Atkins 2020 despite the easing favourite Rothfire drawing wide in the Eagle Farm feature.
Byrne, who has made an incredible return to riding after breaking his leg at Doomben last December, is excited to partner the Robert Heathcote-trained Rothfire for the second time this prep in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1400m).
The event, traditionally a mile affair, has a reduced distance and prize money is down to $350,000 due to COVID-19 this season but the class of the two-year-olds in the field remains high.
Sitting top of the markets at an easing quote of $3.80 through Ladbrokes.com.au, Rothfire suffered what the punters have deemed an early blow with barrier 14.
Even with the two emergencies out, the favourite’s gate will become 13 of 18 at best.
Byrne, who rode the consistent Rothesay gelding to his fifth win last start in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) at Eagle Farm on May 23, believes his horse can still get the job done from the wide alley.
“Horses can win from out there as it is a long run to the first turn. He is the type of horse to just let roll after the start,” he told AAP.
“I liked the way he relaxed in trackwork on Tuesday morning and I keep saying he is the horse they have to beat.
“He is a nice horse, improving all the time and can go on from here.”
Success on Saturday would see the hoop celebrate his sixth Group 1 win and second in the J.J. Atkins following his victory aboard the Paul Butterworth-trained Capital Gain in 2017.
Ten-time Group 1 winning trainer Heathcote meanwhile chases his maiden win in the J.J. Atkins.
The Toby & Trent Edmonds-trained Wisdom Of Water occupies the second line of J.J. Atkins betting at $6 chasing a third win on the trot this prep.
Robbie Fradd rides the consistent Headwater colt from barrier 10 with Wisdom Of Water coming off back-to-back wins at his home track at the Gold Coast, the latest by nearly three lengths as the odds-on favourite in the Group 3 Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m).
Also out to extend a winning streak in the J.J. Atkins is undefeated filly Macroura, the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained daughter of Snitzel drawn a treat in barrier two.
She has won all three starts leading up to her acid test this weekend, the latest over 1100m in Black-Type company at Rosehill.
Despite the rise in distance and outside gate, her drop back from 58kg to 55kg has Macroura at $6.50 in J.J. Atkins betting.
Rounding out the single-figure fancies and, like the favourite, on the drift is the Champagne Classic runner-up Isotope ($6.50 out to $7.50) for Tony Gollan.
Jockey Baylee Nothdurft continues his association with the Deep Field filly and believes she has improvement to come off her last start and that the wide alley (13) is a non-issue.
“She was a month between runs the other day, had a good blow after it, and you could definitely tell it wasn’t her grand final. She’s right to go,” he told The Courier Mail this week.
“It’s not that bad (the barrier). We’ve got Wisdom Of Water inside, Rothfire and Wild Ruler outside of us, and Starosa one under me, so I will probably roll forward with them and I think we will end up in a reasonable spot, either third pair or second pair.”
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