Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is taking a positive attitude about his day at the office on Saturday despite suffering the frustration of having all four of his stable runners finish in the money without actually winning a race on the day.
At Hastings promising three-year-old filly Jennifer Eccles looked to have scored a superb victory against her age-group rivals over 1100m before having the race taken off her in the inquiry room after causing interference to race favourite Kali in the home straight. Hardy veteran Sultan Of Swing also finished runner-up in an open 1600m contest while lightly raced four-year-old All Paid Up battled gamely into third after leading for home in a rating 65 1400m contest.
Ritchie watched the New Zealand action unfold on a television at Rosehill racecourse where he was on hand to see progressive stayer The Good Fight open his Sydney campaign with a dogged effort for second on an unsuitable Heavy track. “I guess it was one of those days where we could have walked away with two or three wins with a little more luck,” Ritchie said. “While it is a little disappointing, the flip side is that the team is going well at the right time of the season which is where you want to be.”
Ritchie was philosophical about the relegation suffered by Jennifer Eccles after having a limited view of the race in real time. “I only saw the race the once on the tv at the track so couldn’t really form too much of a judgment on the inquiry,” he said. “It did look to me that the inside horse had pushed Kali on to us but I guess the judiciary saw it differently. “I was rapt with her run as she was first-up and showed she will be very competitive against those better fillies. “Her main aim is the 1000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) at Riccarton in November so the way she relaxed and got home plays well with that in mind. “She will most likely go to the Gold Trail Stakes (Group 3, 1200m) back at Hastings in three weeks before we make further plans from there.”
Ritchie was also delighted with the effort from The Good Fight who lived up to his name by making up good ground behind eventual winner Mrs Madrid after conceding 7.5kgs to the mare in the handicap. “He (The Good Fight) was super as it looked like he might get beaten by a couple of lengths halfway down the straight but he really fought hard and was taking ground off the winner at the end,” he said. “He was giving away plenty of weight and never shirked his task so that augurs well going forward.”
Ritchie was also buoyed by the comments from rider Hugh Bowman after the race. “Hughie came back in and the first thing I asked him was did he think the horse was good enough to win a nice race,” Ritchie said. “He immediately said he thought he could win a big race so that was good to hear as he also said he didn’t really cop the wet track at all. “The run has now put me in two minds as to where he goes next as the original aim was a rating 78, 2400m race back here in a fortnight but I’m mindful the handicapper might make that too tough for him. “The other option is the Newcastle Cup (Group 3, 2400m) where he would get in on the minimum (53kgs) so we will take a serious look at that option before we make up our minds.”