Trainer Norm Gardner has gained the services of big race jockey Craig Williams on country trained Coliseo in the Listed $100,000 Turnpoint Randwick City Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
Coliseo is backing up after running third to Fill The Page in the Listed $200,000 Mercedes Benz (Canberra) Canberra Cup on Sunday and Gardner has no worries about the five year old saddling up in under a week.
“The horse has pulled up absolutely terrific since that effort so he’ll go to Randwick on Saturday for the City Stakes,” Gardner said.
“The short turnaround doesn’t worry him. I’ve backed him up quickly before and it didn’t faze him. All he does is eat and sleep. That’s all he does.”
The Randwick racing surface will be in pristine condition for the Randwick Guineas meeting after undergoing renovations in January with upgrade to the drainage system between the 1000m and 400m.
“The Randwick track is going to be a beautiful surface, it’s going to be a similar standard of race, and he’s pulled up tremendous so we’ll give him a go at it.”
Jeff Panza has been Coliseo’s regular rider of late which saw the pair win two starts back in the 1600m Viscorde Surfaces Open Handicap at Canberra and was full of praise for the gelding’s run in the Canberra Cup blaming a wet patch at the 300m for his defeat.
“I thought 100-metres out he was going to get it, but the thing is the leader had an easy run so it didn’t slow, it kept going,” Penza said.
“It was a phenomenal run from him. It was probably three or four lengths slower where he was on the track.”
Coliseo has been a great money spinner on the country circuit earnning almost $95,000 and Gardner is keen to step him up in distance after Saturday’s 2000m race.
“He most certainly can get better. He is a horse that is still very lightly raced. I still reckon he’s short of his best. I reckon he’s a 2400-metre horse,” he said.
“He’s only just starting to jump better from the barriers. Half the time he was missing the starts so there is still a lot of improvement left in him.”
Williams has another busy day at Randwick which includes the ride on New Zealand three year old Ocean Park in the Group 1 $500,000 Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m).
Kiwi trainer Gary Hennessey scratched Ocean Park from the Group 1 NZ$750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 3 won by Silent Achiever because of the wet track.
“I’m pleased that I kept my horse at home and now he’s set to head to Sydney with fresh legs,” Hennessey said.
Ocean Park is a winner of three from five starts and was narrowly beaten last time out by New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever in the Group 3 H S Dyke Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 4.