I can fully appreciate that there’s been a long, long list of outstanding two-year-olds who, for whatever reason, didn’t reach the same heights once they turned three, especially the really early, highly precocious ones. Sunlight fits that profile to a tee, but I’m absolutely convinced she won’t be one of them.
I thought she was the best two-year-old of her generation. Her wins in the Magic Millions and the Silver Slipper were simply outstanding, but unfortunately it just didn’t quite work out in the Golden Slipper where arguably the wrong tactics were deployed; she was held up just off the speed and Estijaab was allowed to come across from her wide draw too easily and got away with too soft of a lead.
It’s always simpler in hindsight but I’ve got no doubt Luke Currie should have, at the very least, kicked up on Sunlight and made Estijaab work to get to the front because she was one of the few in the race that has the early speed to be able to do that.
But that’s racing, and the daughter of Zoustar has still got plenty ahead of her. It can start with a bang here by taking down boom galloper Nature Strip in the Lightning on Saturday; I just think that weight pull is too big of an advantage, even with the fact that she may not be fully wound up whereas Nature Strip is deep into his campaign now.
I think she leads him up while Jamie Kah gets going on her early to try and take advantage of the weight factor, hopefully bringing Nature Strip a little out of his comfort zone; that can prove enough for Sunlight to start her spring campaign in style.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
After a hard-fought debut win at Canterbury on a wet track, Thinkin’ Big may have just felt that a bit when a touch disappointing at his second run. He looked somewhat flat, but maybe he was looking for a bit further trip, too.
He gets that now with the Tulloch Lodge team stepping him straight up to the 1500 metres, in a race that he may well be able to dictate proceedings from in front. There certainly doesn’t appear to be any others more likely than him to do so.
He’s a big lump of a colt who looks like he’s probably going to be a mile/middle distance type eventually, and his breeding only confirms that being by superb staying influence High Chaparral, out of an Oaks-placed mare whose dam is by Nothin’ Leica Dane.
If he gets the softish lead I envisage, I can see him proving very hard to run down late.
This is an exciting young staying prospect. Anyone who’s been reading the column of late would know I’m a big fan of his upside and as long as he isn’t over the top here and settles appropriately in the run, he is far more progressive than these and should win again.
It’s extremely important for Mount Kilcoy to get his rating up further because, as we know, even getting a start in some of the better class spring middle distance/staying events can be difficult. And he’s already potentially going to be a hard horse to place unless he truly becomes top class; there’s still a long way to go before that happens, so it’s one step at a time for him right now. This is certainly a race I’d expect him to get through unscathed.
Set Weight Class 3 or 6 events on a Saturday in Brisbane are right up there amongst my favourite races to bet on. You can always find a horse who is really well in at the weights; sure, they don’t always win, but their strike rate is well above average.
I think I’ve found another here in the ex-Michael, then Richard Freedman-prepared, Show ‘Em, who is now in the Toowoomba stables of Tony Sears.
Admittedly, 1200 metres is as short he’d like it. But he is first up, and he’s shown previously that he can put in a decent fresh run over a shorter trip. Most of all, he just looks so well in; he really should be giving some of those weighted the same, or close to it, here several more kilos.
Hopefully Emma Ljung, who’s ridden him in every start since his move to Queensland, can have him a bit better than midfield here and he’s ready to produce late. If he’s near his best that’s well and truly good enough to win this.
OVER THE ODDS
These listed races throughout the Sydney winter on Saturdays are notoriously open affairs. It’s been no different this year, and certainly no different with this weekend’s Winter Challenge.
But I think I’ve found one here who is ready to run a bottler at a double figure quote in Chris Waller’s Irish import Mister Sea Wolf, who looks ready to peak here third up after two solid runs back from a spell.
He was great first up working home stylishly behind Sir Bacchus, before he probably didn’t love the slight drop back in trip and muddling pace second up, but still produced nice sectionals late.
He’ll be in the second half of the field, so luck will have to play its part. But I get the feeling he’s ready to produce here and finally breakthrough in Australia.
Leg 1 – 8,10
Leg 2 – 1,9,11,16
Leg 3 – 3,10,12,13
Leg 4 – 1,4,6,8,9,11,12,13
($100 = 39.06%)
Leg 1 – 1,2,3,10
Leg 2 – 2,8,9
Leg 3 – 1,2,3,7
Leg 4 – 5,8,9,12
($100 = 52.08%)