French import Spiritjim is expected to show plenty of improvement at his second run on Australian soil when he lines up in the Group 1 $650,000 Hardy Brothers Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller rattled off a host of excuses for Spiritjim when he ran seventh, beaten four lengths, to Leebaz in the Group 2 $358,000 All-New Jaguar F-Pace A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on May 7, but he was still happy with his first up effort.
“It was good. Got back, he got wide,” Waller said.
“At the Gold Coast you can’t get speared off the track like he was and be expected to make up ground.”
“The leaders and on pace runners kept running. Horses out wide didn’t make up ground.”
“I thought his run was good.”
Waller has been happy with Spiritjim’s progress since the Gold Coast run and with Hugh Bowman in the saddle from barrier three in the ten horse field, is expecting the Galileo six year old to be competitive.
“He has trained on okay and he worked well on Tuesday morning, needs to improve admittedly, but he has a good gate, Hugh Bowman rides, he is a chance.”
Spiritjim will be up against similar opposition on Saturday with the first three placegetters of the Hollindale Stakes, Leebaz, Hauraki and Volkstok’N’Barrell, all lining up in the Doomben Cup.
Waller will also saddle up former Kiwi mare Lady Le Fay who will be having her final run before heading off to the breeding barn.
Jason Collet takes the ride on the five year old mare who has drawn barrier seven.
Lady Le Fay was probably racing in the best form of her career over the Sydney Autumn Carnival with a fourth to Azkadellia in the Group 1 $1m The Coolmore Legacy Stakes (Queen Of The Turf Stakes) (1600m) at Randwick on April 9 before dropping back in class to win the $50,000 Tommy Hill Memorial Handicap (2000m) at Randwick on April 25 on a rain affected track.
Then at her latest run finished second to Ecuador in the Listed $100,000 Lord Mayors Cup (2000m) at Rosehill on May 7.
Waller admits that it is another huge step back up in class, but said that Lady Le Fay deserves one last chance in a Group 1 before her retirement.
“She is going to stud this year and we are just having a throw at the stumps so to speak,” Waller said.
“She has got plenty of black type next to her name. She is in good form, admittedly in much easier races. She gets her last chance to perform in a Group 1.”
“She was placed fourth in a Group 1 through ‘The Championships’, so she deserves to be there.”
“She would be better on a wet track.”
Spiritjim has come in for some early support at Ladbrokes.com.au and has firmed in from $12 to be currently marked at $10 for the Doomben Cup while Lady Le Fay is listed as a $15 chance.
Market order for the Doomben Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.40 Hauraki, $5 It’s Somewhat, $6 Volkstok’N’Barrell, $9 Our Ivanhowe, Noble Protector, $10 Spiritjim, $12 Leebaz, $15 Lady Le Fay, $17 Messene, Maurus.