Over the culture shock of his first Group One runner a year ago, trainer Jason Attard is having trouble keeping things normal ahead of this year’s Epsom Handicap.
Attard’s stable star Sons Of John is set for his second crack at the $1 million race at Randwick on Saturday.
“I’m trying my very best just to treat it like just another race which is nearly impossible,” Attard said.
The 2015 Epsom gave Attard his first Group One runner when Sons Of John ran third behind champion mare Winx.
“Last year was a bit of a culture shock,” Attard said.
“It was quite a big thing to have a Group One runner let alone to have a chance in the race.”
The 29-year-old has 14 horses in work at his 40-hectare Freeman’s Reach property on the outskirts of north-west Sydney.
He is focusing on building quality over quantity.
“This time last year I had a lot more just country and provincial horses whereas now I’m trying to have mainly at least provincial horses to midweek,” Attard said.
Last year Sons Of John carried 56kg and Winx had 57kg.
This time Sons Of John ($13) will carry 53kg, three less than $5 favourite Hauraki.
“We’re better off at the weights and just the fact that Winx isn’t in there has got to be a big bonus,” Attard said.
Sons Of John won the Group Three Bill Ritchie second-up at Rosehill on September 10, giving him an extra race leading into the Epsom compared with last year.
“The Bill Ritchie was great for his confidence and ours just to see him come through and win like that,” Attard said.
“He only went to the Theo Marks last year and straight to the Epsom.
“We put an extra few miles under his belt and have put him into the race a little bit more advanced than he was last time.”
Singapore-based Glen Boss will fly to Sydney to ride Sons Of John in the Epsom and also has the ride on the Chris Waller-trained Antonio Giuseppe in the Group One Metropolitan Handicap.
Sons Of John is raced by the horse’s breeder John Kelly, who also has Saturday metropolitan winner Kellyville Flyer with Attard.
“He’s chuffed,” Attard said.
“I don’t think they’ve really had this type of success before.”