In-form sprinter Casual Choice’s bad luck at the barrier draw continued when he came up with another wide gate in the Listed $100,000 ICA Sunshine Coast Ascot Handicap (1200m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Trainer Tony Gollan elected to scratch Casual Choice from the Listed $150,000 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Handicap (1200m) at Toowoomba last Saturday after the six year old came up with barrier fourteen in the original draw.
But Gollan is not that concerned this week and will be relying on jockey Jim Byrne to find some cover from barrier nine in the twelve horse field on the more spacious Sunshine Coast track.
“It didn’t really matter whether we went to the Weetwood or Ascot with them but unfortunately neither have drawn that well again,” Gollan told Racing Queensland News.
“The draw (barrier 9) has been a bit unkind to Casual Choice again but the bigger track should suit him and he’ll be ridden with cover and hopefully finish off.”
Gollan will also saddle up Whiskey Allround whom he also scratched from the Weetwood Handicap after drawing barrier nineteen and the five year old will jump from gate seven in the Ascot Handicap with Robbie Fradd taking the mount.
The premiership winning trainer’s third Ascot Handicap runner is the Gai Waterhouse cast off Frespanol who has drawn barrier five with Tegan Harrison to ride.
Casual Choice is racing in the best form of his career and brought up a hat trick of wins with his narrow victory in an 1110m Handicap at Doomben on April 2.
His winning run kicked off with a first up win in a 1050m BenchMark 90 Handicap at Doomben on February on 27 and then he beat Sir Moments and Mahican in the $100,000 Gold Coast Stakes (1200m) at the Gold Coast on March 12.
Gollan is also expecting a better showing from Whiskey Allround after he failed to beat a runner home when tenth to Casual Choice at Doomben last start.
“Whiskey Allround has been the victim of circumstances lately and we aim to ride him a lot more positively in this race,” Gollan said.
“He won a Stakes race only three starts back and he’s right in this race if he strikes his best form.”
Frespanol will be having his first start since beating one runner home when nineteenth behind Happy Clapper in the Group 2 $250,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in December and Gollan is expecting the Choisir five year old to be improved with Saturday’s run under his belt.
“This race is his starting point and he’s probably not going to trouble these over this distance,” Gollan said.
“He’ll be more effective once he gets out to 1400 and 1600 metres.”
“Frespanol will probably need this run and need some luck in running and I think the fitter horses have an advantage over him.”
“His main aim will be some of the second-tier Listed and Group 3 races during the carnival.”
Casual Choice is on the second line of betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Ascot Handicap at $5.50 behind the equal $5 favourites Worthy Cause and Jessy Belle while Frespanol is marked at $7.50 and Whiskey Allround is one of the outsiders of the field at $19.
Ascot Handicap market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $5 Worthy Cause, Jessy Belle, $5.50 Casual Choice, $7 Hopfgarten, $7.50 Frespanol, $13 Mischievous Devil, Architect, $17 Desert General, $18 Sambuca Shot, Ellawisdom, $19 Whiskey Allround, $26 Daph ‘N’ Alf.