Size chips away at Moore's lead
The John Size mid-season surge expected by many in the past two months didn't really eventuate, but the Australian trainer managed to make some minor inroads into the championship lead with Rich Unicorn and Sapelli.
The double took him to 34 wins and 11 behind leader John Moore, while only Tony Cruz landed a victory of the three trainers ahead of him on the table, but for Sapelli (Olivier Doleuze), his narrow win over Victor Delight in the 1,800m Amber Handicap was fitting reward for some consistent recent form.
Sapelli's last win was in April last year, but this season he has returned a cheque in all but two of his 10 starts, the latest two finishing second over 1,600m.
'He is super consistent, very honest, and those sorts of horses really deserve to win a race,' said Size. 'But it isn't that easy to do because they do need to lift their rating to be successful. Today he got a decent tempo and the extra 200m on the mile races he's been in lately and he took advantage of the opportunity.'
Although last to the turn, Doleuze said he made a point of coming out and starting his run a little early on the five-year-old.
'The pace was the main concern but when he got that, I just wanted to make sure he got a proper chance to run at them because he tries very hard,' he said. 'I think he enjoyed the jar being out of the track today, too.'
Size said the Group Three Premier Plate on March 20 over the same distance looked a logical step for the gelding now.
'It's a step up but hopefully there will be some highly rated horses in it and Sapelli will get in with a light handicap.'
Rich Unicorn had let punters down when fourth up the straight last start, but they were prepared to give him a chance again yesterday returning to racing around a turn and he won for the third time in six starts with some authority.
'Face value, he was disappointing up the straight, but I think that there was a bias to the outside draw horses on the day that played against him,' Size said. 'The market today suggested plenty of people were putting his defeat down to that bias and he's justified that.'
Whyte agreed, saying he expected Rich Unicorn to bounce back after his fifth behind Mr Celerity.
'In that race, we drew in, jumped well and I dropped him in to track Blaze King, who led over towards the centre,' he recalled. 'I thought he was in a good spot until I looked up just after the point where the straight track joins the main track and saw we were six lengths behind the outside ones. He tried hard but he was no chance from there. And I think the turn suits him better anyway - you can put him to sleep and give him the opportunity to sprint home.'