Roger James is hoping for a handy barrier draw for his charge Full Of Spirit in the Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings on Saturday.
“The big key for her is a good draw,” said James. “She’s suffered from a lot of bad ones and if she gets a good draw on Saturday she’s a strong chance. She’s certainly capable of matching it with those horses.”
Full Of Spirit has won four of her 19 starts, including three wins last year. The second of those was in the Gr. 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last April, her lead-up to the Gr. 1 ATC Oaks, in which she finished fourth to Streama.
She then returned to New Zealand and won first-up over 1400 metres at Ellerslie in September when beating the smart mare Postmans Daughter, who will again be a rival on Saturday.
Full Of Spirit was hampered by a series of bad draws during a four-race Melbourne spring campaign, when her best effort was a first-up sixth from the outside barrier in the Gr. 2 Blazer Stakes (1410m) at Flemington.
Returning to New Zealand, she had four further starts over the summer, finishing fifth first-up in a Listed 1400 metres at Te Rapa, then a close second to Miss Pelear in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile and a sixth in Historian’s Gr. 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile. She was put aside after finishing unplaced in the Gr. 3 Westbury Classic last March.
“She had a good break and she’s coming up well,” said James. “I was very happy with her exhibition gallop at Matamata and she’s got a good record at 1400 metres. “
The main concern for James could be the Hastings track if it stays heavy. “She wouldn’t want it heavy,” he said. “Dead to slow would be better for her.”
The Hastings track is currently rated Heavy10 with fine weather forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday but showers then leading into the weekend.
Matt Cameron will ride Full Of Spirit on Saturday. His only ride on her was fresh-up at Te Rapa last December.
The Flying Spur mare has been nominated for all three legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown and James says there is a chance she could start in each event. “We’ll just see what she does in the first one and take it from there,” he said.
James’s attention over the weekend will be divided between Hastings and Caulfield. Full Of Spirit will be his only New Zealand runner over the weekend, while in Melbourne Silent Achiever will take on the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m).
Silent Achiever was flown to Melbourne last night and James reports she has settled in well in her stable at Flemington. “It was 10 hours from stable to stable, which was good going, and she’s arrived safe and sound.”
Silent Achiever will be ridden by Steven Arnold when she takes on a star-studded line-up in the Memsie Stakes, including Dundeel, Atlantic Jewel, Happy Trails, Super Cool and Green Moon.
“I don’t think she can win first-up over 1400 metres in that field but it’s not the main aim,” said James. “She’s getting ready for the staying races, but she’s got to start off somewhere.”
Silent Achiever is being set for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and James won’t be making a decision on a second-up run until after Saturday’s race. “There is an array of opportunities for her,” he said. “I’ll just see what she does on Saturday.”
Further action in the James stable on Saturday will be the departure to Sydney of the promising three-year-old Full Count, who has recorded a debut second at Te Teko and an easy win at Avondale in his two starts.
He will make his Australian debut in a restricted grade event at Canterbury next Wednesday and provided he performs well he could then head to the Gr. 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill on September 28 and on to his main Sydney mission, the Gr. 1 A$400,000 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 12.
“The Canterbury track mightn’t be ideal for him,” said James. “Ideally I would have liked to give him another run here, but there’s not the money to help him get in the bigger races over there. He’s racing for A$40,000 at Canterbury.”
If Full Count lives up to his trainer’s expectations he will head to Melbourne for the A$1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 2.
- The Informant