There’s still spring in racing’s step at Sandown

Craig Wlliams (centre, in pink) wins the Sandown Guineas on So Swift last year.IT MIGHT feel rather like the back room at a party when the lights go on and you look at your watch to see it’s 3am and realise most of the guests have gone home.

Nevertheless, Saturday’s Sandown meeting still has plenty to offer, and as any owner or trainer will tell you, winning a group 2 or group 3 race a week after the Flemington carnival finishes is just as exciting as one during Cup week. And the dollars earned at Sandown are worth just as much as those picked up at Flemington.

Bill and Symon Wilde, the father-son training partnership from Warrnambool, scored one of their biggest successes when So Swift won last year’s Sandown Guineas. They have high hopes of collecting again with another lightly raced but promising three-year-old, Gold Medals.

The Elvstroem youngster is a progressive gelding who will be going for the $350,000 1600-metre event at just his fifth start. The inexperienced galloper’s last run was his best – a third behind one of today’s rivals, Eximius, in the Hilton International Stakes at Flemington last Saturday.

Yes, Gold Medals was in receipt of 2.5 kilos from Mick Price’s charge that day and he meets his conqueror at level weights at Sandown, so strictly on weights and measures he should not be able to turn the tables. But Gold Medals was only second up from a spell last week (Eximius was having his fourth run of the campaign) and running from a wide barrier, a distinct disadvantage at the 1400-metre distance at Flemington.

The Wildes are hopeful that with improvement from that race, plus the advantage of an inside gate (their horse is drawn in stall one), he could turn the tables.

”We have had a high opinion of him for a while now, even when he was a two-year-old and disappointed on a heavy track at the May carnival at Warrnambool,” Symon Wilde said. ”We turned him out, he had a virus in the winter and he took time to come to hand. We expected him to win at Stawell [on his first start for six months at the beginning of November] and we thought he would run well at Flemington but we needed to gauge where he was to see if it was worth pushing on for the Guineas. We saw enough to convince us that it was.”

The Sandown Guineas is an intriguing group 2 race at the end of the carnival as it is often won by a fresh horse, one that has not been battling all through the spring.

Symon Wilde says that relative inexperience might be a help rather than a hindrance in a race like this. ”Some of his rivals have had long and busy preparations and he’s the new one.

”Had he drawn a decent gate at Flemington I think he would have gone very close and his closing sectionals were good so we have to be hopeful.”

Last year’s hero, So Swift, has been on the injury list all year. He ran once last autumn but he had throat problems and also tweaked a tendon, so he has been given an easy time of it with a view to getting him ready for the spring next year.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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