Gold Coast trainer Michael Costa will send his lightly raced gelding Phobetor to Randwick on Saturday for a “throw at the stumps” in the Group 2 Missile Stakes.
The six-year-old gelding has had just 11 career starts, winning six of those and being a narrow runner-up in the Listed Ramornie Handicap at Grafton on July 7.
The son of Dream Ahead was an impressive first-up winner at Doomben on June 16, coming from near the tail of the field to win by half-a-length in an Open Handicap over 1110m.
On Saturday, Phobetor will have his first run in Group 2 company when he lines up in the $200,000 Missile Stakes over 1200m.
“Yeah, he’s well,” Costa told HorseBetting.com.au.
“He did win the Magic Millions Rising Star, but he was coming up some tried-and-true horses in that Ramornie and he really did show up and show he was up to that level.
“I know it’s only a small field in the Missile, but he definitely has to step up again and we don’t have a home track advantage.
“We’ve got to get on the road and do the travel, and also got the logistics of COVID and not being able to send staff down as well, so everything is against us, but he’s a had a really good week and a sensational course-proper gallop on Saturday.
“We’ll have a throw at the stumps.”
Costa recently had success in Sydney with Seentoomany winning at Randwick on June 12, so he will be hoping for more of the same this weekend.
“Our hit and run missions have been really good to date,” he said.
“We’ve placed them well down there, but this is another level again, but we do have a good success strike rate down there.”
Phobetor has drawn barrier two, and Costa said he has not given Tommy Berry too many instructions except to focus on a strong start.
“Sometimes these small fields you think maybe on paper there’s not a lot of speed and it can be a completely different dynamic once the gates open,” he said.
“My instructions to Tommy are just going to be begin well and then just have him in his rhythm as soon as you can get him.
“Before acceptances I was hoping for barrier two and that’s what we got, so we’ll just have to leave it up to Tommy to make the decision once the gates open.”
While Saturday’s Group 2 will be Costa’s main focus this week, he does also send his ultra-consistent mare Willo Titto to the north coast of NSW for a shot at the Coffs Harbour Cup on Thursday.
The six-year-old mare won at Doomben on July 24, beating odds-on favourite Indispensable by a long neck.
“She’s a mare which has pretty much never spelled, but a year ago, she was running around when we first got her as a tried horse, the owner said, ‘just see if you can win a Benchmark 58’, and she’s just continued to come on in leaps and bounds,” Costa said.
“She’s as tough as old boots. Her win last Saturday there at Doomben was very good and a career peak for her.
“It did really work out for her in the run – probably a little bit more tricky from this gate there at Coffs Harbour.
“I haven’t had the greatest success at Coffs Harbour, so we’re just hoping that because she’s a bit tough, she can handle that track.
“It’s not an easy race, but I’d say she’s within in the top 20% of it.”
Willo Titto is a winner of eight races, and Costa’s main aim is now to win some black-type events in order to boost her broodmare credentials.
“It’s just been unfortunate she’s never won black-type,” he said.
“Every time she’s been in black-type, she’s just drawn the carpark and never had a good run in transit.
“The ultimate goal is just pick up black-type anywhere.”
Willo Titto is a $7.50 chance in the 1600m feature at Coffs Harbour on Thursday, while Phobetor is paying $6.50 to win the Missile Stakes on Saturday.