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Image: Steve Hart
Joe Pride has set his sights on an Epsom Handicap tilt with Private Eye

Queensland Guineas winner Private Eye has signalled his spring carnival intentions with a powerhouse performance to claim the Group 3 Show County Quality at Randwick.

The 1200m win took his record to seven victories from 10 starts and confirmed trainer Joe Pride’s plans to aim for some major spring targets.

Pride said he suspected the horse had come back extra well but didn’t want to get ahead of himself until he saw Private Eye perform on race day.

“He is a miler and to see him sprint like that when it is generally not their forte tells you how good he has come back,” Pride said.

“His trials told me that and I did a good job of talking it down all week, to myself mainly.

“I kept saying, whatever happens today he will be better for the run and he will be looking for further.

“That was everything I could have wanted and more from that horse.”

Private Eye was spelled after claiming the Queensland Guineas (1600m) in Brisbane in a trip Pride believes has been the making of the horse.

“He went away as an adolescent and he has returned the finished product,” he said.

Pride confirmed the Epsom Handicap and Golden Eagle as Private Eye’s major targets, with the Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) on September 11 and Shannon Stakes (1500m) two weeks later the likely stepping stones.

And he might have inadvertently found a light-weight rider for the Epsom with Jay Ford picking up the winning mount, replacing Brenton Avdulla who was taken to hospital after a race fall 40 minutes earlier.

“I think I have found my Epsom rider as Jay can ride light,” Pride said.

“Then hopefully Brenton is alright and will be back on the horse for the Golden Eagle.”

Private Eye ($9) was allowed to find his feet early before storming down the outside to chase down Embracer ($8) by a short neck with Icebath ($15) another length away in third.

While Ford was happy to boot home a stakes winner, his immediate thoughts were with Avdulla.

“A few years ago, Brenton had a tumble and I picked up New Tipperary and got the job done. I did the same again today, but I’d rather Brenton be standing here and not me, so hopefully he is A-OK,” Ford said.

“He’s some horse. Obviously, his record speaks for itself and he’s making giant leaps through the grades.”

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