With Terravista missing the spring, sprinting understudy Ball Of Muscle carries trainer Joe Pride’s Group One hopes.
He gets his first chance to prove he can take centre stage in the Group Two Shorts at Randwick on Saturday.
The six-year-old has trialled twice ahead of his first-up run.
He has won both and was impressive in the latest hit-out, winning easily under a tight hold from Kerrin McEvoy on Friday.
“Judging off his trials and the way he looks, he’s come back better than ever,” Pride said.
“I guess everyone says that about their horses when they come back but I don’t think I’ve seen him trial better. It was excellent.”
“Everything I’ve asked of him this preparation he’s done and done with relative ease which is a good indicator.”
Ball Of Muscle’s Group One-winning half-brother Terravista is in work but will not race until autumn in a bid to overcome ongoing foot problems.
“Ball Of Muscle’s the best sprinter we’ve got up and running at the moment so hopefully he can knock off a nice race for us,” Pride said.
Pride considered starting Ball Of Muscle’s preparation in the Group One Moir Stakes but decided The Shorts would prime him for Moonee Valley.
“Just seeing the strength of this Moir I really think he’s going to have to be close to his peak to win it,” Pride said.
“For that reason he’s having a run here in Sydney before we leave because he’s never been a horse who has peaked first-up.”
If Ball Of Muscle exceeds his trainer’s expectations he might get a crack at the Flemington carnival but a trip to Perth for the Winterbottom Stakes is more likely.
“It certainly won’t be easy but you’re not going to get an easier race for $1 million,” Pride said.
Concorde Stakes placegetter Craftiness is nominated for The Shorts but likely to have her next start at Caulfield on September 24.
Ball Of Muscle is at $11 to win The Shorts in TAB’s early market which is led by English at $2.80.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au