Sultan Of Swing has settled into his new home in Sydney after the Queensland winter carnival proved beyond his capabilities at this stage of the New Zealander’s career.
Shaune Ritchie was optimistic when he brought the four-year-old over to Doomben last month, but a struggling ninth on his Australian debut forced a rethink and a switch to Ritchie’s brother Craig at Warwick Farm.
Sultan of Swing duly found the going easier at Rosehill, where he ran third in a benchmark 85 race on a good surface on June 3, a marked improvement on his previous showing the a 1600m-Listed race.
“Shaune felt he wasn’t suited to the winter carnival,” Ritchie said.
“It was an awkward start for him. He he got caught deep and it didn’t work out very well.”
Sultan Of Swing will tackle open company in the Kensei Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Ritchie was more encouraged by Sultan Of Swing’s first-up run in Sydney where he hit the line hard after uncharacteristically sitting off the pace.
“He was naturally going forward in New Zealand but at Rosehill he raced a fair way off the speed,” he said.
“The early tempo of these races is probably a little more intense that what it is over there.”
Sultan Of Swing finished off well for a half-length second to Louie Sea Kay but Ritchie did sound a note of caution before he runs on a heavy track for the first time from gate 12 of 12.
“Up to 2000 metres and on a softer track it’s hard to know if he’s going to have quite as good a kick,” he said.
“I’m not sure whether he can quicken as good to make himself competitive, especially now from this gate. It’s very possible he’ll have eight to 10 horses to try and get around.”
Regardless of how the race pans out Ritchie is happy to acquire Sultan Of Swing.
“He’s a ripper of a horse. He’s got a lot of natural improvement in him,” he said.
Ritchie said they had considered the benchmark 85 (1500m) on Saturday but connections want to step Sultan Of Swing up in distance.
“If he does it can open up a lot of avenues. If not, we can bring him back to a mile or 1500,” he said.
“They’re not ornaments, you’ve got to have a crack.”