While decorated pinto mare Moonwind Park Prosperity again proved she was in a class of her own at the Royal Easter Show, Michelle Ritchie admits it is more difficult to place the pride of her racing stable.
The Kembla Grange trainer can now devote full attention to Better Not Blue after prolific show horse Moonwind won three more blue ribbons a fortnight ago, and preparing the five-year-old gelding is the least of her worries.
Finding the appropriate race for this year’s Provincial Championship runner-up is the issue with Ritchie admitting Sydney appearances will be a rarity for the remainder of Better Not Blue’s career.
His latest preparation started with a trial in late January but he only had one race – a second placing in Wyong’s provincial qualifier – before Maryore beat him home in the final.
“He races a lot better fresh and there’s really no races in Sydney around for him any more,” Ritchie said.
Better Not Blue lines up in a Benchmark 85 handicap (1300m) at Hawkesbury on Saturday with apprentice Jean van Overmeire taking 3kg off his top weight of 61kg.
“It’s hard to place him because of his rating. He either has to run against good Sydney horses or Group horses or Listed horses. He goes good but he’s a bit outclassed against the better horses,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie is taking Better Not Blue to Queensland’s winter carnival where the Group Three BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 20 is the priority.
“There’s a lot of races up there for him where he can be competitive with other horses. He’s only a class four,” she said.
Better Not Blue is at $8 with William Hill but the good track and barrier four concern Ritchie.
A $10,000 buy as a two-year-old at a Ready to Run sale, Better Not Blue prefers wet tracks and a wide gate.
“If it was any other horse I wouldn’t mind but I’ve had a bit of experience with him drawing on the inside,” Ritchie said.
“He gets a bit crowded for room and he starts to panic a bit and over-race.
“Jean will have to ride him quiet. If he revs him up it’ll be all over.”