Trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr only have one query surrounding their Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) contender I’m Thunderstruck – how to ride him from gate 10.
By the time the son of Shocking jumps in The Valley feature on Saturday, 16 races will have already taken place at the Melbourne track over the two days of racing, and Price said that he is leaving the riding tactics to jockey Mark Zahra.
“I am not sure how to ride him exactly from barrier 10, but Mark will have to make his mind up there,” Price told RSN.
“It would be easy if we were in gates one to six – you just come out and find yourself thereabouts with cover. From barrier 10 I am not sure if you want to be giving him a dig and crossing them and being outside of the speed with no cover.
“We are scratching our heads as to how to ride him at the moment but I am sure Mark will make the right decision on the day.”
With showers forecast, Price is hoping the track isn’t too testing by the time his horse jumps.
“He handles some type of heavy ground,” Price said. “You have got all Friday night racing and then there is eight races before his (on Saturday). There is a lot of racing on the inside part of track. You would think middle to outside from the 2000m would not be a disadvantage. They can run on in a Cox Plate and still win.
“If he is getting a reasonable track out there, he is going to be a better chance than if he is slipping and sliding on a wet track.
“We are of the opinion that the better the track, the better his chances.”
Saturday’s feature will be the furthest the New Zealand-bred has been tested, having raced over 2000m on two occasions, with his best result coming last start when runner-up to Anamoe in the Gr.1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Price took plenty of confidence from that run, as well as his previous starts this prep, including runner-up in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) first-up before winning the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and then fourth in the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) before his Caulfield Stakes run.
“The horse is great, he has had a really good prep,” Price said.
“I suppose 2040m at Moonee Valley is quite testing, it is an uphill run.
“In the back of our minds there is a 2000m thing about him, but we will do battle and the horse is in good order.
“He is perfect. If the race works out well, you will see him in the finish.”
I’m Thunderstruck was bred by Cambridge couple Tony Forlong and Jennifer Jones. Previously based in Kumeu, chartered accountant Forlong and accomplished rider Jones purchased I’m Thunderstruck’s dam Primadonna Girl for just $2400 through good friend Danny Rolston, former Bloodstock Sales Manager for New Zealand Bloodstock.
I’m Thunderstruck won a 1000m two-year-old trial at Te Aroha by three lengths, before being acquired by OTI Racing and joining Price and Kent Jnr from Matamata-based trainer Daniel Miller.