COVID travel restrictions will prevent Canberra horseman Keith Dryden from being on course for Handle The Truth’s Kosciuszko bid at Randwick but he has enlisted the help of a handy understudy.
Resigned to watching the race from afar, Dryden picked up the phone to champion trainer Chris Waller who, despite having his own team of 16 horses at Randwick, didn’t hesitate to offer his help.
“We’re in lockdown still, so I can’t attend but Chris Waller is going to saddle him up for me,” Dryden said.
“Chris is one of these people that goes out of his way to help anyone. When I rang him (Wednesday) night and said I couldn’t come down, he said, ‘it won’t be a problem at all. I’ll do whatever I can to help’.
“So he will saddle him up and he’ll speak to Nash (Rawiller) for me.”
Handle The Truth heads Kosciuszko betting after a brace of solid lead up runs in the best of company.
He finished fourth to the Waller-trained Nature Strip in the Concorde Stakes (1000m) two starts ago then wasn’t disgraced when seventh to Eduardo in The Shorts (1100m).
Dryden feels those runs have given Handle The Truth a good grounding, as well as giving the trainer the confidence that his horse is where he needs to be.
“They were excellent runs. He’s not up to that class, we knew that when he went in, but it gives you a guide that the horse is going well,” Dryden said.
“He’s going to be competitive on those runs.”
Saturday will mark Handle The truth’s third appearance in a Kosciuszko (1200m) after winning the race in 2019 and finishing fourth from a wide draw last year.
Dryden is confident the six-year-old is in a similar vein of form and can again be competitive from his inside gate.
“I think he’s probably going as well,” he said.
“He’s a little bit older and more mature and a little bit more settled as a racehorse. I wouldn’t say he’s gone backwards at all.”
Handle The Truth remained a $4.40 top pick after the scratching on Thursday of Front Page.
The Corowa gelding injured a ligament in his near hind-leg and trainer Geoff Duryea advised stewards he was not fit to race.
It is the second time the horse has been struck by bad luck leading into a Kosciuszko – 12 months ago he was withdrawn after becoming fractious in the float en route to Randwick.