After a luckless spring with his gun mare In Her Time, Newcastle’s Benjamin Smith is looking ahead to the autumn’s TJ Smith Stakes 2018 in Sydney hoping to finally get a Group 1 win on the board for his stable ace.
Won by the ‘Grey Flash’ Chautauqua for the past three years on the trot, the Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) sprint at Royal Randwick runs next autumn on Saturday April 7, 2018.
Part of Sydney’s ‘The Championships’, the weight-for-age classic shapes up as the major new season target for Smith’s ultra-consistent Time Thief mare In Her Time who is yet to secure an elite level title.
“We’ll target the TJ obviously,” Smith told the media this week.
“We’ll probably look to give her a lead-up or two in those set weights and penalties mares’ races.”
The five-year-old has come close plenty of times, most recently crossing just a neck second behind the four-year-old winner Hey Doc in Moonee Valley’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 27.
That followed back-to-back wins first and second-up in Sydney by the now three-time Group 1 placegetter who took at the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) and Listed Sydney Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
The Sydney Stakes was a consolation prize for In Her Time after she controversially failed to secure a spot in the $10 million The Everest (1200m) on the same day, and saw her defeat subsequent Darley Classic third placegetter Impending.
In Her Time was also meant to contest the Group 1 $1 million Darley Classic (1200m) down the Flemington straight last Saturday on Emirates Stakes Day.
On vet’s advice however she had to be scratched from the race due to a quarter crack suffered during her interference-marred Manikato Stakes second, and a disappointed Smith sent her straight to the paddock.
“We galloped her on Saturday morning and probably could have pushed on to the race but you don’t want to be umming and ahhing going into a Group I race against the best sprinters in the land,” Smith said.
“It wasn’t worth the risk.”
Smith is now prepping her 2018 campaign and confirmed another trip north for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival after the TJ Smith Stakes was on the cards.
This year In Her Time had three Queensland runs in the winter starting with a fifth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) behind subsequent The Everest – Darley Classic interstate double winner Redzel.
She then raced in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m), run at Doomben with Eagle Farm a wash-out, finishing second to Impending before her close third a length off the winner Tycoon Tara in the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1350m).
Smith has a similar winter prep in the sunshine state calling for In Her Time in 2018, with the latter of the two races set to run over 1400m at Eagle Farm next year.
“There’s obviously also a few suitable targets in Brisbane like the Doomben 10,000, the Tatts Tiara is crying out for her but we’ll wait and see how we go,” he said.
“Ideally the prep would be one or two runs into the TJ then a little let-up again and go to Brisbane.
“Stick to what’s tried and true with her.”