The Hawkesbury ride on a potential winter Group One contender was up for grabs on Monday with a NSW stopover confirmed for Melbourne mare Sophie’s Spirit.
Sophie’s Spirit is the only interstate-trained entry in the $130,000 Darley Crown on Saturday as trainer Max Hinton plans to use the race as a lead-up to a Brisbane campaign.
But Hinton’s plans to reunite Nash Rawiller with Sophie’s Spirit have been dashed as the jockey is committed to riding More Strawberries for trainer Gai Waterhouse and owner John Singleton.
“I was waiting to see if Nash was available because he rode her at Sandown in the spring when she finished second,” Hinton said.
Glyn Schofield was also on Hinton’s radar after he won a Group Three race on the five-year-old on Melbourne Cup day last year but he, too, is unavailable because he will be at the Gold Coast for the Hollindale Stakes meeting.
Sophie’s Spirit, an on-pace runner, will be trying to cover expenses for an ambitious Brisbane campaign when she races at the stand-alone Saturday meeting.
Mornington-based Hinton, who has only had one Sydney runner since he trained Top Dance to win the 1990 Emancipation Stakes, believes Sophie’s Spirit has done enough to earn a shot at a Group One race.
“She’s been a handful and she’s needed to get her act together but she’s entitled to have her chance in a nice race,” he said.
Sophie’s Spirit, who heads to Sydney off a first-up Flemington placing on April 14, has the $500,000 Group One Tattersalls Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm as her winter target.
“I think she will run a good mile eventually but at the moment 1400 metres really suits her because of her high cruising speed,” Hinton said.
“She likes to lead. She’ll be right there on Saturday with a good kick off a strong speed.”
The Hawkesbury Race Club received 27 entries for the Darley Crown with the sponsor’s Australian trainer Peter Snowden nominating five horses for the global breeding and racing giant.
Darley runners made a clean sweep of the placings in last year’s race with Kanzan beating Screen and Dysphonia.
More Strawberries, placed in the 2010 Golden Slipper before winning two Group Two races as a three-year-old, raced below her best when she resumed in the Sapphire Stakes at Randwick.