The compression of the famous Warrnambool carnival into two days has forced local trainer Symon Wilde to consider his options.
A key player at the carnival, Wilde is in a dilemma which race to target with local hero Gold Medals.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s carnival has been shortened from three days to two and split into one jumps meeting on May 5 and a flat program the following day.
In past years, Gold Medals has raced on two of the three days, in the Brierly Steeplechase (3450m) on day one and the Grand Annual Steeplechase over 5500m two days later.
Gold Medals won the double in 2018 and finished second in both last year.
“It’s worked for us really well in the last couple of years so it’s a shame they’re both on the same day,” Wilde said.
“They’re the only races that we really set him for, along with the Australian Steeple at Sandown.
“They’re his three jumps runs for the year so it has thrown a spanner in the works.
“We’ll have to aim at one or the other, then go to the Australian and maybe then try and extend his campaign for one more run.”
Wilde concedes getting jumpers fit to run 5500m early in the season is a difficult task.
Adelaide’s Oakbank Easter carnival, featuring the Great Eastern Steeplechase (4950m), has been cancelled placing jumpers at an even greater disadvantage.
But Wilde said Gold Medals was ticking over nicely in preparation for Warrnambool.
“He is getting on a bit now but he’s as sound as a church bell and as good as ever,” Wilde said.
“It will be hard to get him fit for 5500 metres, if that’s the way we decide to go.”
Wilde invariably sets a large team for his hometown carnival, but will have reduced numbers this year.
“We always have a lot of horses aimed at the certain races, but dropping it back to two days and with the uncertainty of racing we ended up turning a few out,” Wilde said.
“We’re only keeping a few horses for the feature races and a handful of others, but we won’t be going full steam like usual.”