A minor setback meant Strathmore missed the early season sprint skirmishes but jockey Neil Callan believes the time off could benefit the strapping type in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint on Sunday week.
A bout of lameness meant trainer Tony Millard kept Strathmore sidelined for more than six months after a closing third at big odds under Callan in a star-studded Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
The form out of that race received a massive boost when runner-up Lucky Bubbles was an impressive winner first-up in last month’s Group Two Premier Bowl, and now a well-rested Strathmore returns with the benefit two lead-up trials.
“The time off could be a blessing in disguise, he will be primed for this next race and for the Hong Kong Sprint,” Callan said, after partnering Strathmore to second in a 1,000m turf trial, just behind a fellow sprint contender, and horse he has ridden previously, John Moore’s Not Listenin’tome. “I think he is really well and obviously he is going to come on for that effort there today.”
Strathmore has been sluggish from the gates at times and Callan thinks the biggest positive to come out of Tuesday’s workout was some extra sharpness at the start.
“I loved the way he jumped smart – he was lazy in his trials before but he was right on the bridle for me,” he said.
“It was a laid-back trial, after he jumped well he had to slice between a few of them, but once he got into daylight and tracked up to Not Listenin’tome, then he was just mucking around and he dropped back a gear.
“All in all I really liked the trial and I think he will be right there in these big races.”
Not Listenin’tome was unlucky first-up but disappointing last start when eighth in the Premier Bowl, with the six-year-old’s keen effort on Tuesday a positive sign heading into the Jockey Club Sprint.
Finishing a length and three-quarters behind Not Listenin’tome was stablemate Rapper Dragon (Joao Moreira), who trialled satisfactorily after a setback and now heads to the Group Two Jockey Club Mile.
Moore’s high-profile import Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) had his first trial since arriving and the Group One placegetter, who raced as Montaigne in Australia, did a good job making late ground to finish two lengths behind the winner in sixth.