Jason Coyle is hoping a change of tempo can enhance the hopes of Salsonic, adding to his Queensland Guineas success before a crack at the Villiers Stakes.
The four-year-old gelding ended his previous preparation on a high with a last-to-first win in the Group Two Guineas at Doomben in June, but since his return from a spell both races have not panned out as planned.
Salsonic struggled to make an impression in the Filante and November Handicaps, and Warwick Farm-based trainer Coyle fears he could be hamstrung again in Saturday’s Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
“It was probably a forgive run first-up and then he was in a race that wasn’t run to suit,” Coyle said.
Salsonic was sixth of eight in the November Handicap (1400m) and trailed an in-form Cabeza De Vaca home by 5-1/4 lengths at Rosehill on November 18
“He really needs to get into a race with a few more runners in it and some sort of tempo engaged so they’re not sprinting from the 600.”
The Festival Stakes had 11 runners when the field was finalised on Wednesday although the Wendy Roche-trained Chalk has also accepted for a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1500m).
Cabeza De Vaca again shapes as a nemesis for Salsonic as the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained gelding seeks his sixth successive win.
After scanning the line-up Coyle was unsure whether there would be a more suitable tempo for Salsonic, a noted back marker.
“He likes to build a bit of momentum and he does his best work inside the furlong when they’re coming back a bit,” Coyle said.
“Hopefully they don’t just let it (Cabeza De Vaca) have a cakewalk for the first half of the race before it puts the foot down.”
Coyle said the Group Two Villiers (1600m) at Randwick on December 16 remained the goal with a three race lead-in hopefully achieving the same outcome as Salsonic’s fourth-up win in the Queensland Guineas.
“Hopefully we can find a bigger field in the Villiers with a more genuine tempo and he’d be 110 per cent on the day,” he said.
Coyle also has the same tempo-related wish for mare Siren’s Fury when she lines up in a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1500m) fourth-up after placing eighth over 1400-metres at Rosehill.
“They walked the first half and sprinted home quick. She ran home in the second quickest 600 of the day but she was never a chance,” he said.