Local hero Clint Lundholm is confident TAB Highway winner Smooth Esprit has what it takes to win Monday’s Maas Mile at Dubbo provided the track doesn’t dampen his prospects.
A son of Black Caviar’s sire, Bel Esprit, Smooth Esprit has raced 11 times on soft and heavy tracks with no wins and just three placings to show.
‘’I think he is the class horse in the race,” Lundholm says. ‘’I just hope that the track is dry enough for him on Monday.
‘’ He’s copped wet tracks all the time. His last start, Ronnie (Ronald Simpson) went for his first city ride and he was back near last and flashed home and ran fifth, beaten a length and still hitting the line nice and strong.
‘’With Ronnie’s claim on Monday, he’s going to carry 57.5kgs back home and back from Highways.”
Lundholm has a busy day ahead at Dubbo with as many as 13 runners across the nine-race card.
Simpson will ride, arguably, the trainer’s top three chances – Smooth Esprit, Vanoureuce and the in-form mare Starlink who lines-up in the feature Winter Country Classic Final (1300m).
‘’She’s going great guns, you can’t stop her at the minute,” Lundholm said.
‘’I was pretty confident at Parkes because she had been going really well but the track there is pretty short and sharp and the leaders can get a break on you.
‘’She just missed out that day but the horse has been flying ever since.”
Simpson has played a key role in Starlink’s purple patch of form with two copybook examples of ‘perfect timing’ at Bathurst and Dubbo at her last two appearances.
‘‘Ronnie has found the best of her and he is just so patient and he gives her every chance. ‘’He rides for luck and I have been lucky enough that he’s got the luck the last two starts,” the trainer said.
‘’It was the goal to be in this race, the Winter Classic Final, it is a good prizemoney race
”Me owning most of her, I like to try and edge towards something like this with her and it has just worked out perfectly.
‘’She come back into the open field with colts and geldings she still gets the 2kgs off for being a mare.
‘’She carries half a kilo more than she won with last start and I don’t think that will be an issues with her.”
Lundholm and Simpson’s first shared engagement arrives in the Hello Sport Maiden Plate (1100m) where the Gerry Harvey bred gelding Vanoureuce is assured his share of admirers despite being somewhat costly to follow.
‘’He is a very frustrating horse,” Lundholm told The Daily Telegraph.
‘’We bought him at the Ready to Run Sale at the Magic Millions.
‘’He had a bit of laser treatment on his throat done.
‘’We got him out to 1300m when he started favourite two starts back and failed.
‘’We thought that’s what he wanted but obviously he is not getting wind so we dropped back to the shorter races and he has been very competitive.
‘’They were just a bit sharp for him in the 1000m last start but he was nice and strong late so the 1100m should really suit on Monday.”
Vanoureuce is bred to be winning Group 1 races.
Not only is he by the Golden Slipper Vancouver, his dam-sires include the likes of Danehill, Sir Tristram, Sir Ivor, Bull Lea and Man O’War.
The gelding’s third dam is Isolda, famed for beating Octagonal by a nose in the 1995 Champagne Stakes.