Many would argue that Peter Snowden has more pressure than any other trainer in Australia.
He’s the man responsible for the performance of the Darley operation, one of the biggest horse racing businesses in the world and one which demands winning results.
His boss is Sheikh Mohammad, one of the most powerful men in the United Arab Emirates and who has a reputation as being a perfectionist in his business pursuits.
Far from crumbling under the weight of expectation though Snowden has carved out an enviable career as a trainer.
In fact last season as his best on record and included a mountain of big race highlights.
He won every two year old Group 1 in the country and in the process unveiled a squad of horses that look likely to continue their dominance well into the future.
The star of the show for many was Sepoy and you can read more about his chances as a three year old in Snowden’s Sepoy Evaluation.
It’s not a one horse stable though and there are a massive range of horses to keep an eye on as the spring gets underway.
Snowden takes the time to go through his top hopes individually as they all begin to get their campaigns underway ahead of spring carnival glory.
Helmet was the ‘other’ star of the two year old series for Snowden and overcame a wayward start to win and win well, albeit still a little wayward in the process.
He was originally set to partner Sepoy in the Golden Slipper but barrier antics cruelled those chances and his preparation was set back until after he completed successful trials.
It worked out in the end though with a pair of Group 1 triumphs in the Sires Produce Stakes and then again in the Champagne Stakes.
He’s still proving a tough horse to control though but Snowden knows if he can get it right the wins will continue to come.
“I’m really happy with this horse..to me he never went anywhere near fulfilling his full potential,” he said.
“He doesn’t know how good he is, has so much talent, hopefully this prep we get the best out of him.”
Helmet will trial on Thursday ahead of a first up test in the Run To The Ruse leading into the Group 1 Golden Rose.
“He’s the horse I’m looking forward to seeing the most,” he said.
“He’s such a good track worker, then he just runs them down and runs past them.
“Hopefully he’s matured up, he’s a real talent.”
His longest win came over 1600m last prep but Snowden is hoping to stretch him out to at least 2000m this time in.
This filly went into the spell on the back of a win in the Surround Stakes after placing third in the Light Finger stakes the start previous.
She has bucket loads of ability and reports are she’s working better than ever.
“She had a really good spell… she’s in great order and she’s quite forward, I expect her to run well,” he said.
Distance is perhaps the only question hanging over her though with Snowden not sure she can run out a full 1600m.
“Not sure just how far she goes, I thought she struggled at the mile, but she’s stronger now,” he said.
“A chance she could end up in the Myer but she’s got four runs before that so we’ll know more about whether she’ll get there.
“She’s a very laid back filly…has a scintillating finish when ridden quietly.
“She trialled really sharp last week.”
One of the fan favourites not to come out of the juvenile ranks, Beaded has developed a reputation as being one of the most consistent horses in the country.
Snowden is on the record as saying she’s one of his favourites and he’s extra keen to see her gave a good prep.
There were talks she may be retired to stud after the Brisbane winter carnival but no doubt buoyed by her win in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 and second placings in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap and Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara they’ve decided to push on.
“She’s in great order, she’s back in work now and she’s bright as a button,” he said.
“She’s back in the stable and she’s loving every minute of it so I think we made the right call.”
Anise will be first up this weekend when she contests the San Domenico Stakes at Rosehill Gardens.
She was overshadowed by her more dominant stable mates as a two year old but she wasn’t without her own success.
She won on debut at Rosehill before finishing off at Randwick where she won the Kindergarten Stakes.
“She’s worked well, she trialled nicely, learned a bit from her last start,” Snowden said.
“She missed the start was back last, settled really well, exploded with a dominant win.”
That run also taught Snowden a lot about her and the riding tactics will reflect that over the spring.
“We’ll ride her quietly, stretch to 1400 metres,” he said.
“Silver Shadow Stakes is a nice progression for her next start, then maybe the Tea Rose depending on how she’s going and how she’s hitting the line .
“There’s Good fillies options all the way through.”
Another of the graduating two year olds from Darley and another which is probably underrated in the shadow of its stable mates.
In reality though she’s a very good filly after winning at Randwick on debut and running second at Rosehill and second again at Caulfield in the Blue Diamond Preview.
She runs first up at Caulfield this Saturday in the Quezette Stakes and Snowden has big plans for her later on.
“Short, quick campaign first time in, talented filly, she looks in fantastic order, she trialled really well last week and I’m really happy with her,” he said.
“Thousand Guineas is the ultimate, I’m not convinced she’s a mile filly but she’s quite brilliant.
“Her next three runs are all targeted in Melbourne, if we find along the way that the mile is too hard for her we’ll change.”
She actually never managed to win a race last season but she came mighty close on a number of occasions.
Her worst result in six runs was a sixth place finished but that was at Group 1 level in the Champagne Stakes.
She’s placed in black type events and will surely win a race at some stage over the spring.
“She always showed really good ability,” he said.
“She took a couple of short steps and didn’t get that maiden win out of the road…we’ll look at the better races, need to go back to scratch with her.
While it’s hard to be disappointed with a win in the CS Hayes Stakes and a second in the Australian Guineas there’s a sense Darley wanted that little bit more from Bullbars.
He’ll run first up in the regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday with that result to largely determine his future plans.
“I expect him to run well, he’s a horse that performs really well,” Snowden said.
“Not sure where he fits in at the moment, there’s a gap between three to four year old horses, no doubt we’ll find a race for him.”
She’s only had the one start as a two year old but naturally it was a winner.
She goes back to the same track tomorrow for her first of the spring but may prove a tricky little horse for Snowden.
“She runs tomorrow at Canterbury, I don’t normally do it but she’s in an open so she’ll take the older ones on,” he said.
“Hard to place three year old for the next couple of months…she always works well.”
She was sent to Queensland with Oaks aspirations but ran into a superstar in the kiwi filly Scarlett Lady.
Take nothing away from her though she’s a good type and is deserved of another spring.
“She’s come back in good order and we’ve decided to go another year for her,” Snowden said.
She’ll be placed in races where she’s a good hope to win with the ultimate goal coming in the Matriarch Stakes.
He came into 2011 with big raps but couldn’t quite deliver with a bit of an erratic nature.
He showed glimpses of promise though and Snowden hopes the spell has done the trick.
“He’s been gelded, he’s back in due to resume on Monday, he’ll work through the grades and get himself there,” he said.
“His last-start win was good, his last-start second was also good.”
Another three year old with promise but in need of a little bit extra to run with the top grade.
Snowden says she’s probably still not quite there but will give her a chance in some good events.
“She trials on Thursday and if she pulls up well I’ll run her in the Silver Shadow,” he said.
“(Long term) more likely we’ll target the Flight Stakes here.”
In 2010 he showed ability with a win and a second first up leading into a second in the Vain Stakes and a win in the Danehill Stakes.
He was third in the Caulfield Sprint later in the carnival but suffered an injury in the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
“He had a shoulder injury, he was out for quite a while, his action now is really really good,” Snowden said.
“1100 metres first up I think is the ideal race to kick him off with.”
This is one we’re unlikely to see after he last ran in the South Australian Derby.
While he’s a winner in good company Snowden says he still has a few issues to overcome.
“He might not get to Melbourne, he’s had a long time off he had a joint problem, not ready for the major staying type races.”