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Friday, October 1, 2010
Neeson on fire despite setback, says Pride
WINNING is not the best form if the
huge betting move for Trusting in
Saturday's Epsom Handicap is to be
believed. The Patinack Farm four-
year-old displaced Neeson at the
top of markets despite not having
won since August last year.
Neeson has won six times in that
period, while Trusting has runner-
up finishes in the Golden Rose to
Denman and in last week's George
Main Stakes behind More Joyous.
However, Trusting was into a $6
favourite in front of Neeson at $6.50.
''Trusting is one of those horses
that everyone seems to have been
waiting for to come back,'' TAB
Sportsbet's Glenn Munsie said.
''They just wanted to see him do
something -- they saw that in the
George Main. Since we went final
field there has been more than dou-
ble the amount of money for him
than any other runner. He is favour-
ite because of last week and sheer
weight of money.''
Stewards yesterday gave Jim Cas-
sidy permission to ride Trusting half
a kilogram over at 52.5kg.
Neeson's trainer, Joe Pride, was
trying to forget the horror show he
saw in the Shannon Stakes. His
charge started favourite that day,
was badly blocked for a run in the
straight and never fully tested.
''The first few days after the run,
it left me a bit dumbfounded and I
didn't know what to think. But
really, in the grand scheme of
things, it was a minor setback,''
Pride said. ''The horse is on fire.''
Pride, who prepared Vision And
Power to win last year's Doncaster,
will start Neeson and underrated
mare Sacred Choice in the Epsom as
he tries to join an elite band of train-
ers to win Randwick's two big miles --
the Epsom and the Doncaster.
Only Bart Cummings, Gai Water-
house, Lee Freedman, John O'Shea
and John Hawkes have completed the
double among present-day trainers,
and Pride is well aware of how hard it
is. He worked with master horseman
and mentor John Size when Rand-
wick's mile was the focus.
''He threw everything at the
Epsom and the Doncaster, and in
the short time he was here and nev-
er got one,'' Pride said. ''It would
look good that Epsom trophy on
the mantelpiece next to my Don-
caster one. Hopefully we can get it
on Saturday and I might give John a
call in Hong Kong.''
Neeson has been at the top of bet-
ting for the mile since his win in the
Tramway four weeks ago, which got
him into the Epsom without penalty
on the limit of 52kg. The preparation
has gone to plan, with only the small
hiccup of sixth in the Shannon
providing a worry for the stable.
''I'm very pleased with him, other
than suffering that interference the
other day, I think he has had the
perfect preparation from the train-
ing point of view,'' Pride said.
''He has been in the right races and
had the right spacing between runs.
Things have come together well and
you need everything to come togeth-
er to win these big races.''
Sacred Choice provides a second
string to Pride's bow but he summed
up her chances compared with
Neeson. ''He is well weighted with
52[kg], she isn't well weighted. He's
well drawn [in gate four], she prob-
ably isn't [in gate 15],'' Pride said.
''He has definitely got more ticks in
the boxes but she doesn't know that
and she is just going out there to run
her best race like she always does.''
Neeson and Sacred Choice will
head south if they run well in the
Epsom, but Pride has ruled out the
Cox Plate. ''It's a very tough year with
So You Think, More Joyous and the
like,'' he said. ''We'll be like Anthony
Mundine, pick our fights and be in the
ones we think we can win.''
Shinn and Robl interviewed as inquiry into betting account heats up
That would be sweet . . . Hot Danish is after her 16th win. Photo: Lee Besford
A n inquiry into a Tabcorp
betting account being
associated with Mel-
bourne Cup-winning joc-
key Blake Shinn and on-track rival
Peter Robl is set to intensify.
Robl, who has the ride on one-time
Epsom Handicap favourite Neeson at
Randwick on Saturday, and Shinn
were interviewed behind closed
doors by stewards following the last
race at Canterbury on Wednesday.
In this day and age, where trans-
parency is vital, considering betting
is taking place on all manner of
sport, Racing NSW has decreed
inquiries on delicate matters are to
be held in-camera. Chief steward
Ray Murrihy said on Thursday there
were ''two jockeys we spoke to about
the operation of a betting account'',
while adding ''this exercise will take
a little time to resolve''.
''Following on from yesterday's
interview we will need to speak to oth-
er licensed persons,'' Murrihy said. ''I
can indicate they are not jockeys.''
The people's horse, Hot Danish,
continues to amaze trainer Les
Bridge. After returning with a bril-
liant performance to win the Pre-
miere Stakes a fortnight ago, the
seven-year-old is out to win for the
16th time in Saturday's The Shorts at
''She has tightened up a lot from
the other day,'' Bridge said. ''It was
the biggest she has been first-up and
she'll be fitter again after Saturday. It
is a good race for her on Saturday
but there are group 1 winners in it
and I respect group 1 horses.''
Emerging apprentice Josh Adams
has been rewarded for hard work
with a maiden group 1 ride. The
youngster will ride outsider Prix Du
Sang, which is trained by John Haw-
kes, along with sons Michael and
Wayne, in Saturday's The Metropol-
itan at Randwick.
''I'm not getting as much sleep as I
used to, it is exciting,'' Adams said at
Canterbury on Wednesday. ''It is
good when trainers have that type of
confidence in you.''
Michael Hawkes said: ''He is riding
a lot of work for us and getting the
rewards. He is a good kid, does as he
is asked but must remain grounded.''
Prix Du Sang is having her third
start for the new stable. ''She is look-
ingforamileandahalf. . .itisnota
strong Metrop, anyone of the 13 hor-
ses could win,'' Hawkes said.
Hawkes will leg Adams on board
unbeaten filly Pontiana in the Roman
Consul Stakes where untapped three-
year-old Slater awaits. ''It will not be
easy, it is a tough race but she
deserves a crack at black type,'' Haw-
kes said. ''She has shown us from day
one, we've never pushed her, she has
come up under her own steam.''
In The Shorts, the former Hong
Kong galloper Dao Dao returns to
racing. ''He has drawn well and runs
well first-up, but Hot Danish looks
the standout horse,'' Hawkes said.
COOL AS ICE
Ice Baby just has to make her debut
in the Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick
on Saturday. It is the first two-year-
olds' race of the NSW season. Ice
Baby, which is prepared by Pat and
Wayne Webster, won her only barri-
er trial recently at Randwick.
''She is highly strung, been a bit of
a handful, but she is very strong and
I'm tipping she'll run,'' Pat Webster
said. ''She was an early foal, by Strat-
um out of a Rory's Jester mare, so
that suggests she is an early comer.''
STABLE NO SECRET
Sky Racing's star stable competition
closes on Saturday at 10am. With
$1 million in virtual money to spend
on thoroughbred stock at the spring
carnival. More than 32,000 people
have already signed up.
Jim and Greg Lee haven't had an
Epsom Handicap runner since
Paulandic finished fifth behind
Super Impose in 1990.
''Our only other runner in the race
was Tierra Rist, which finished third
three years earlier,'' Greg Lee said at
Randwick on Thursday. ''He nearly
should have won and this horse is
better than our other two.''
The training brothers will start
Keepin' The Dream in Saturday's
Epsom. ''Put his last run down to
having no luck, he is ready for the
race we've set him for,'' Greg Lee said.
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