What Wicked Intent lacks in fitness, trainer Chris Munce believes he will make up in ability when he resumes in the Group 3 $125,000 Moreton Hire Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Wicked Intent was the standout two year old of the Brisbane Summer Carnival before he faulted at Magic Millions time but he has come back in great order and Munce is confident the speedy chestnut will be right in the finish.
Munce has given the Wicked Style colt two jumpouts to fit him for his return and while he admits that he is not fully wound up, he has put his faith in his natural ability to be very competitive.
“When it comes to ability wise, I have no questions,” Munce told Racenet.
“He was dynamic in his first few starts putting paid to them like a really good horse.
“He’s fit enough to go to the races but whether or not he’s fit enough to beat that quality of horse first-up over 1200 is yet to be seen but I know ability wise he probably can.”
“Saturday’s a big test for him because he’s going into the race with two jumpouts and a lot of these horses have already got a run under their belts,” he said.
“He’s going into the race on Saturday as fit as he can be. He hasn’t missed a beat in his work.”
Wicked Intent was undefeated from his first three starts with wins at the Gold Coast and Doomben before he collected his first black type race with an all the way win in the Listed $100,000 Morgans Seafood Phelan Ready Stakes (1050m) at Doomben on December 13.
A tough run at the Gold Coast when second to Mishani Honcho in the Group 3 $150,000 B.J. McLachlan Stakes (1200m) two weeks later might have been enough for the smallest colt.
“He struck a heavy track, got softened up in front and (Mishani) Honcho only just beat him home and then come Magic Millions day he’d probably had enough,” Munce said.
He was still sent out the favourite for the $2m Jeep Magic Millions 2yo Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on January 10 but from barrier five Wicked Intent was unable to get into the race in the early stages but fought on well in the straight to be beaten just over two lengths to finish sixth behind Le Chef.
Munce has set out a program that will lead to the Group 1 $600,000 BMW Australia J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Doomben on June 6 but if Wicked Intent shows that the 1600m is beyond him, the former champion jockey will change course and put him away for the Spring.
“I’m not sure how far he will get,” Munce said.
“I guess I’m still learning about him in that sense whether he’ll get out to a mile or if he’s a sprinter.
“If he shows me that he can’t get out to the mile I’ll probably only give him a couple of runs then put him out again and look at something in the spring.
“That would be another level again, he’d have to take that next step but when it comes to natural ability he’s got plenty.”
Munce rode Wicked Intent in the Magic Millions 2yo Classic on the day that he hung up his saddle and was aboard the colt for four of his five starts.
Damian Browne takes over in the Ken Russell Memorial Classic and will have no trouble going forward from barrier seven in the sixteen horse field.
Wicked Intent is currently marked at $8.50 in the Ken Russell Memorial Classic with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Gai Waterhouse trained Regatta Rebel as the $2.40 favourite.