With the arrival of Sydney’s off-season, stakes-performed horses are having their sights lowered to compete in benchmark handicaps at Canterbury.
Of Saturday’s Ranvet Handicap (1200m) field, only Godolphin gelding Grunderzeit has not raced in Listed grade or better.
The Joe Pride-trained Kuro was placed twice in Group One races as a three-year-old and will carry the top weight of 59kg after Nick Heywood’s three kilogram claim.
But Pride is unsure whether Kuro can return to those heights.
“I’ve been happy with the horse physically so there’s every chance he can return to that level, but it’s one of those things – I’ve got to see it,” Pride said.
“I’m like everyone, I need to be convinced.”
A more pressing concern is rebuilding Kuro’s confidence.
Pride says the horse is better placed to win Saturday’s race than Tuesday’s Choisir Handicap from which he was scratched.
“I just want to get him back to the winner’s cricle,” Pride said.
Kuro’s last win came in May last year in the Listed Mick Dittman Plate at Doomben.
He was then placed in the Group Two QTC Cup before a stint with Lee and Anthony Freedman who trained him to finish 11th in the Oakleigh Plate in Feburary.
Back with Pride and now a gelding, Kuro returns on Saturday after two trials.
He faces Hawkes Racing-trained Snoopy who also competed at the top level at three and performed creditably in the Group Three Cameron Handicap and the Group Two Theo Marks Stakes during this preparation.
Outsider Berry Delicious was third in last year’s Group Two Golden Pendant and Fine Mist comes off an unplaced effort in the Listed Lightning on October 15, one of seven starts in stakes grade.
Jason Collett will ride the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Suspense as he looks to recapture the form which convinced the father-son duo to race him in the Group Three Hawkesbury Guineas in April in which he was sixth.
Inz’N’Out was third in the Choisir Handicap and will face a four-day back-up if he starts.