Trainer Joe Pride is thrilled with the condition of talented sprinter Ball Of Muscle, leading into his Spring Carnival return in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
A full brother to Group 1 winner and former stable mate Tiger Tees, Ball Of Muscle has posted an impressive eight wins and nine minors through his nineteen career starts so far, and has trialled particularly well leading into The Shorts 2016.
Pride told AAP that the Dubawi gelding has been bouncing around the stable through the last week and is confident he is ready to lay a great account for himself first-up in The Shorts this weekend.
“Judging off his trials and the way he looks, he’s come back better than ever,” Pride said.
“I guess everyone says that about their horses when they come back but I don’t think I’ve seen him trial better. It was excellent.”
“Everything I’ve asked of him this preparation he’s done and done with relative ease which is a good indicator.
“Ball Of Muscle’s the best sprinter we’ve got up and running at the moment so hopefully he can knock off a nice race for us.”
Ball Of Muscle finished second behind Buffering in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) last spring and while confirming that the race will again figure as a target, Pride believes that the horse will have to find another gear to overcome what is likely-to-be a talent-rich field.
“Just seeing the strength of this Moir I really think he’s going to have to be close to his peak to win it,” Pride said.
“For that reason he’s having a run here in Sydney before we leave because he’s never been a horse who has peaked first-up.”
Placing second in The Shorts in 2015 before his run in the Moir Stakes, Ball Of Muscle ended an impressive campaign third in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1000m); finishing just off the pace of dead-heaters Éclair Choice and Lumosty.
Failing to come up during a short autumn campaign this year, Ball Of Muscle finished sixth in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) and eighth in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) before being returned to the paddock.
The 2016 The Shorts field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.