The prospect of a wet track won’t deter the confidence of Kerrin McEvoy who will be reunited with classy filly Guelph in the Group 2 $175,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
McEvoy has been aboard Guelph for five of her seven wins, including four at Group 1 level, but had to miss her first run back this Autumn Carnival while he was recovering from an injured knee he suffered in a race fall in New Zealand on January 26.
Hugh Bowman substituted for McEvoy when Guelph ran a disappointing sixth to Sweet Idea in the Group 2 $175,000 Red Lea Chickens Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 22 and came in for some criticism form trainer Peter Snowden for his ride.
The Warwick Farm track is currently rated a Slow 6 and with thunderstorms forecast for Friday afternoon and showers for Saturday, the likelihood of a track upgrade is remote.
But McEvoy feels that Guelph won’t be worried by the soft track and was encouraged by her strong work out during the week.
“Theirs is no doubt in my mind she is better on top of the ground but with a fourth in the Slipper on slow it is nothing to be afraid of,” McEvoy told the Sportsman.
Snowden was also delighted with the midweek workout and is also confident that a wet track will cause no concerns.
“She probably worked a bit stronger than I thought she would but her mate didn’t get through the softer track as well as she did,” Snowden said.
“It is good to know that because I think this track will be soft on Saturday.
“She was just like the Guelph of old.”
McEvoy can’t see a problem with drawing the outside of the thirteen horse field and will settle the the Group 1 winning filly where she feels comfortable.
“It’s never ideal but you never know how the track is going to play at Warwick Farm so by then it may be a blessing,” McEvoy said.
“I won’t be too keen to have her out of her comfort zone, I know she led in the Thousand Guineas but it was a slowly run race and a small field.”
“I’ll let her tell me where she wants to be, if that means if she is fifth or sixth or eighth or ninth then so be it. More than likely she will be midfield and tracking something to let go with the turn of foot she has shown in the past.”
Guelph was one of the stars of her two year old season and combined with McEvoy to win the Group 1 $500,000 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 $400,000 Moet & Chandon 150th Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in the Autumn of 2013.
The Exceed And Excel filly was then able to recapture that Group 1 winning form in the Spring with wins in the $400,000 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick and the $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield.
Punters and bookmakers are expecting Guelph to redeem herself in the Surround Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au marking her as the $2.80 favourite just ahead of Light Fingers Stakes winner Sweet Idea at $3.40.
Those two fillies dominate the betting with the Team Hawkes trained Real Surreal the closest in the market order at $10 with Gypsy Diamond at $16, Champagne Cath at $17 with Arabian Gold and Lucia Valentina.