The latest Joe Pride-trained sprinter to leave an imprint on black-type racing will have the depth of his best win scrutinised sooner than expected when a stablemate runs at Randwick on Saturday.
Pride will start Casual Choice in the TAB.com.au Handicap – eight days after the chestnut was rated an unlucky runner behind Ball Of Muscle in a Listed race at Gosford.
As one of the outsiders and coming from 10th on the turn in the Takeover Target Stakes, Casual Choice went to the line looking for a run when beaten 1-1/2 lengths into fourth place with the winner setting a track record.
Pride more than matches it with any stable when it comes to having the most impressive array of sprinting talent in Australian racing.
Terravista easily comes to mind as Pride’s biggest star but support acts aren’t difficult to find in Tiger Tees, Coolmore Stud Stakes placegetter Kuro, Ball Of Muscle, Craftiness and the sometimes forgotten sprinter Rain Affair.
Casual Choice isn’t in the same league but on the strength of his Gosford finish, a benchmark race on Saturday is well within his reach.
“I haven’t seen the front-on shot of the Gosford race but there just mustn’t have been anywhere for him to go,” Pride said.
“He ran a terrific race.”
Pride will use James Innes jnr’s 3kg allowance to offset the five-year-old’s 60.5kg.
Innes is in his first week as Godolphin’s apprentice jockey after having his indentures transferred from Canberra trainer Keith Dryden to John O’Shea at Warwick Farm.
He has four Randwick rides but none are unlikely to provide a tougher initiation to his role as a full-time Sydney apprentice than the one he has with Casual Choice.
That’s because much to Pride’s disappointment, Casual Choice has drawn off the track in gate 13 in a field reduced to 14 runners after two early scratchings.
Yet the deep barrier hasn’t been a deterrent for some with Casual Choice one of the meeting’s best-backed runners since markets opened on Wednesday.
But just as there has been solid support for Casual Choice, the rally for the Bjorn Baker-trained Coolring has been also been strong.
Coolring has firmed into equal favouritism with Marianne, a former Melbourne-trained mare making her debut for Peter and Paul Snowden.