A good draw, change of riding tactics, a drop in weight and a third run from a spell all are factors giving Warwick Farm trainer Rod Craig confidence with Circle Of Power going into today’s Listed $100,000 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill today.
The race is wide open with bookmakers but Circle Of Power has improved his place in markets being backed with TABSportsbet fixed odds from $16 to $9.
Craig admits earlier riding tactics on the galloper may have led to poor racing manners.
“He is a big, gawky horse and early on a few of the jockeys were pushing forward on him,” Craig said.
“They were quite aggressive to get his mind on the job and it seemed to be working.
“He got a few results but then he just wanted to get on the bit and be a little keen.
“I never thought it was the way to ride him and this time in we have put a norton bit on and got him to relax.
“He seems to be appreciating finishing off his races, rather than doing all the work and being a sitting shot at the finish.”
Circle Of Power’s two runs back from a break have been pleasing.
After a fast finising fifth behind Riva De Lago first-up, he ran second to Lightinthenite, today’s second favourite, beaten a short neck.
While Lightinthenite ($6.50) drops a half kilogram for the run, Circle Of Power drops four kilograms.
“I think if anything we might have gone back a little too far in his first two runs,” Craig said.
“From the good barrier he should be able to settle a little closer and still finish off strongly.
“If he gets luck in running he will run a good race.”
The Gai Waterhouse-trained King Lionheart ($4.60) is favourite.
It is first-up after running 15th in the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.
Its first up record to date is two wins from three starts and Nash Rawiller rides.
The winner of the Group 2 Shannon Stakes carried 58kg to victory when first up at Rosehill over 1500m.
It is the same weight he carries today.