Waratah Thoroughbreds hope to emulate Sir John Hawkwood’s Metropolitan Handicap-winning exploits with a former Japanese stayer who is set for his first Sydney start at Randwick.
The Southern Highlands-based breeding enterprise sent The Bandit to trainer John Thompson two months ago with the aim to capitalise on their farm at Moss Vale.
“They like utilising their farm. The horse has a run and then goes back to their farm for a week or 10 days and then comes back and runs again,” Thompson said.
“They’ve had a lot of success with that strategy. They won the Metrop with Sir John Hawkwood doing that and I think they want to do the same thing with this horse.”
After three races in Japan, the now six-year-old The Bandit was bought to run in Australia and sent to Caulfield trainer John Sadler but struggled after a second-up win over 1800m at Sandown in March 2016.
“They were trying to get him to the Melbourne Cup, but didn’t have much luck there,” Thompson said.
“I don’t know what sort of heights he’s going to reach but he gallops like a good horse does.”
Thompson should have a clearer idea of The Bandit’s capabilities after he races for the first time since the 2016 Group Three Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington, where he finished a disappointing 10th, 14 lengths behind winner Oceanographer.
Thompson, who trained Sir John Hawkwood to win The Metropolitan (2400m) in 2016, was unsure why The Bandit had not raced for more than a year but said his trials were encouraging ahead of Saturday’s Benchmark 85 Handicap (1400m).
He also saddles up last-start winner Dreamforce in the Maroubra Mile as the five-year-old attempts his third win this preparation.
Dreamforce won over 1600m at Randwick on December 30 and Thompson expected another strong performance with stable apprentice Blaike McDougall to ride.
Thompson has four-year-old Blanco Cara set for her first Saturday start since she was unplaced in the Group One Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben in June.
She will run in the benchmark 85 handicap (2400m) and backs up from a win over 1912m at Gosford on December 28.