By Ray Hickson
Trainer Joe Pride says Fasika has a very good case for selection in the TAB Everest and is heading to Rosehill on Saturday as confident as he can be that she will strengthen that case with a first-up win.
There’s room for a high class sprinting mare in next month’s $15m TAB Everest and Pride said Fasika has been prepared to make a statement in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Sheraco Stakes (1200m).
With a last start Group 1 All Aged Stakes placing to her name, Fasika is a dominant $2.50 favourite with TAB and Pride believes she’s suited to how the race looks likely to pan out.
“It’s one of the fastest races you’ll see for a mares race,’’ Pride said.
“It’s unusual, these fields in past years have been smallish. This is a massive field with a stack of pressure in it.
“She runs a really strong 1400m so 1200m first-up with a hot pace is great. The thing I like about good tempo in races is you generally get the best horse winning the race and that’s what I consider my mare to be.
“Lesser horses can beat the better horses when they get favours and the right sort of runs but I see this as being as genuine test and it will suit her.”
Part of the Pride plan to have Fasika firing on all cylinders first-up, and avenge a luckless second in the Sheraco last year, saw the five-year-old have three trials and she downed Gytrash narrowly in one of them.
She’s a $34 chance in TAB Everest betting, stablemate Eduardo who runs in The Shorts next weekend is at $26, and Pride believes she has the right attributes.
“She has the ability to absorb pressure, she has good speed herself,’’ he said.
“She’s a good horse at Randwick, handles wet or dry and still has upside. I think she is an ideal candidate.
“With both of mine, I’ve found what I’d consider appropriate races and it’s up to the horses to show what they are capable of doing.
“I’m happy to hand it over to her now and she can take it from here.”
Fasika was able to win the Group 3 Wenona Girl (1200m) first-up in the autumn but she endured a horror run of barrier draws through the campaign – 6 of 8, 13 of 14, 14 of 16 and 12 of 14 so Pride was relieved to draw seven in a capacity field.
But it’s not so much Fasika’s draw that pleases him, it’s where those he considers the biggest threats have been asked to jump from.
“A lot of the opposition, the ones I consider the dangers, have drawn what look to be poor barriers,’’ he said.
“I thought Flit was a real danger but having her out there it’ll be interesting to see how they ride her.
“It’s tough when they get up to this level because you can never be too confident. I have a lot of respect for the majority of the field, I do believe my mare is the best horse in the race.
“Does that mean she’s going to win, of course it doesn’t, but it gives her an excellent chance. I think she has come back better than ever, there’s plenty in her favour, she just has to make it happen.”
Fasika wins a trial at Warwick Farm on September 3
It’s likely Fasika will progress to the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) in two weeks but Pride said he’s open to changing that plan should an Everest slot holder show interest.
Flit’s trainer James Cummings said his Group 1 winning mare has a few things in her favour as she attempts to overcome what will likely be barrier 15.
Hugh Bowman takes the ride after Flit, $18, finished ninth in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) last month and Cummings expects her to be hitting the line strongly.
“She’s bringing form from a run in the Winx Stakes where she got held up and didn’t have the opportunity to finish off,” he said.
“It’s going to be nice to have Hugh Bowman back to give us a horse and jockey combination that was lethal back in February in the Light Fingers.
“I’m very happy to see her back at six furlongs with the blinkers back on.”