It’s not often that South Australian-based trainers make waves in Victoria, never mind in the northern states.
But if all goes according to an ambitious plan, SA horseman David Jolly just might be in line for the biggest day of his career.
The trainer, who handles a select team of about 25 horses in the coastal town of Goolwa, near the mouth of the Murray River, is saddling up live contenders in both the $2 million Caulfield Guineas in Melbourne and the $500,000 Silver Eagle at Randwick, as well as entries in Adelaide.
Roccabascerana – named for a town in the Italian province of Avellino – is the three-year-old gelding who will do duty for the Jolly yard in Melbourne, while four-year-old Behemoth will be looking to enhance his claims for the $7 million Golden Eagle in Sydney.
Jolly won’t be at Caulfield if his galloper, who will be ridden by top Melbourne jockey Linda Meech, salutes.
He is in Sydney with Behemoth, not because of personal choice, he is quick to explain, but because the older horse is more of a handful and he felt more comfortable deputing care of Roccabascerana to staff while he took charge of Behemoth.
“I am up at Hawkesbury and then taking Behemoth to run in Sydney. It was a flip of the coin, Rocco is a bit more straightforward so I thought it better to go up with the other one,” Jolly says.
Those who follow coincidences might well see this is an omen: racing history is littered with tales of owners or trainers who failed to see their charges win historic prizes because they couldn’t make it to the races, or opted to go to another meeting instead.
Roccabascerana might not be favourite – he is being kept safe at $13 in Sportsbet’s Guineas market – but more of the 17-runner field are at longer prices than are at shorter odds than him.
The son of Fighting Sun won his first three races in limited company in Adelaide but acquitted himself well when he ran at Caulfield in the Guineas Prelude last time out, finishing fourth behind three of Saturday’s rivals, the Queenslander Alligator Blood, fellow South Australian Dalasan, the Guineas favourite, and lightly raced galloper Groundswell.
“At first we thought he was going to be a mile-plus type, but he was quick enough to win those early races,” Jolly says.
“We feel that he will really have taken a lot of benefit out of that run at Caulfield last time out. He was only beaten just over a length by the winner, and it was the first time he had really been put under pressure in a race.”
Meech rode him that day, and Jolly is happy that she is back aboard.
“He is drawn in barrier one and if she wants to go on and lead he is well placed. She seems to ride leaders very well round there, and we see so many races are won by horses that make the running or race prominently.”
Behemoth is a $15 chance in the Silver Eagle and the four-year-old, narrowly beaten in the group 1 Goodwood in his home state last season, was a last-start winner of the listed Penny Edition Stakes at Morphettville last start.
That was in late August and he has since been freshened although he has run in two barrier trials, one at Gosford and one at Morphettville.
Michael Lynch – The Age