Ben Thompson, who has had an outstanding season since relocating to Queensland, will be looking to put the cherry on the top of his season’s achievements when he takes aim at a Group 1 win on Stradbroke Day.
If anybody knows how to prepare a horse for a big carnival feature it is the Snowden stable and Thompson is rapt to have the ride for the Snowden team in Queensland’s biggest race.
“I’d ridden a little bit for the Snowden’s when I was based in Melbourne,” said Thompson. “I’d taken a couple feature rides for them and the odd provincial ride. I haven’t ridden for them for some time, but it is nice to pick up the ride in a feature race for them because it gives you a lot of confidence throwing your leg over one of their horses.
“The horse has a tricky draw. By no means does it mean he is out of the race. The way the track has been playing there are likely to be a lot of horses getting back and running on like him that are also drawn a bit wide … horses like The Harrovian, Wild Planet and Niccanova. There are some horses that I think, if I find their back, they will take me a long way.
“He was super in the Kingsford-Smith. He looked the winner at the 150m and one or two more strides and he would have run second. It looks like the 1400m will suit him and he is a really consistent galloper. He is a winner at the course … he won at the course a couple of years ago as a younger horse, so that is a big bonus.
“Also … worth noting … he drops 7kg in the weights which is a big pull.
“Hopefully, off that super run in the Kingsford-Smith he can go a couple better.
Two races prior to the Stradbroke, Thompson will have his first shot at Group 1 glory on the day in the J J Atkins when he rides Dark Rebel for trainer Edward Cummings, who took out his first Group 1 win with Duais in the Queensland Oaks last Saturday.
‘I’m excited to have a ride for Ed,” said Thompson.
“I trialled the horse here last Tuesday and he trialled nicely. He got his tongue over the bit in the race before and he had to get re-instated … and he went good.
‘He has drawn soft, so hopefully it can be another Group 1 for Ed. There are others with better exposed form, but he has only had two starts and you would expect him to be improving.
“He was great on debut at Warwick Farm when he won … and, obviously, that last start you just have to put a line through as the horse didn’t get a chance to show what he is capable of.
“Hopefully, we can see him put his best foot forward on Saturday.”
In the day’s other main feature, Thompson has the ride on the Mike Moroney trained Hang Man in the Q22.
‘I’d never ridden for Mike Moroney when I was based in Melbourne … even as an apprentice,” said Thompson, “but I did get to ride his filly Yatton in The Roses and The Oaks last week … and I guess that is how it came about that I got the ride on Hang Man.
“Obviously, it is a very, very tough race … but he is a quality horse.
“He has been racing well. His form in Melbourne was super before coming to Queensland. He won the Easter Cup and beat a really good field that day … the likes of Persan, Mahamedeis and Vow And Declare. He had so many good horses behind him there … and he also finished right on the heels of Paths Of Glory and Zaaki when third in the JRA Plate.
“So, he ticks a lot of boxes. I thought he was an honest run in the Lord Mayer’s Cup and he was also good two back at Doomben behind Warning … but the weights, being weight-for-age, makes it hard.
“Put it this way though, Mike Moroney knows how to prepare a quality runner … let alone a stayer … and for him to bring the horse up here, obviously he knows it is warranted for him to take his chance.
“I’m sure he will benefit from the fact that he has already had a run at Eagle Farm and he will be wiser for that. He is a horse that generally settles worse than midfield. He is drawn kind and I’m sure I will be doing no work until the business end.
“I’m very lucky to have these rides and be in the position I am, receiving great support from a variety of trainers. If I can get one on the board on Saturday it would be nice.”