De Grawin, which is unbeaten since joining Pride, and Private Eye are early favourites for their races, while Passage Of Time is just about to find his dominating best.
The key for the flying De Grawin will be the soft ground. She impressed Pride in winning a barrier trial on a heavy track last week. He took the blinkers off her when she arrived in the stable last year, and she progressed from Wyong to Nowra to win in Sydney on the first Saturday of the season.
“She didn’t need the blinkers,” Pride said. “Shorter races are her go, like her mum [ De Lightning Ridge] , but she handles a wet track, which her mum didn’t.
“I thought she trialled super the other day on that sort of ground, and she gets in with no weight on Saturday from a good gate on ground with a bit of give in it.”
Pride makes a habit of getting his horses in winning form and then stringing successes together, as he has done with De Grawin. Another case in point is Private Eye, which will be out to earn a place in the Magic Millions Guineas on Saturday.
He has three wins from four starts, including on soft and heavy tracks, but will need to win on Saturday and hope the Guineas field falls away a bit to get a run in the $2 million feature on the Gold Coast.
He has scored dominant wins at Gosford and, significantly, on the Kensington track last start, and Pride holds a high opinion of him.
“I think I have found a really good progression of races for him to get him to his first Saturday assignment,” Pride said.
“I have respect for this field, but I think he has had a lovely progression in distance and time between runs, and it gives him a good chance to show us he is good enough to go to the Gold Coast.
“If he is not I won’t be too worried, because this horse has really good upside. If he is not up to it now, he will definitely be up to it next preparation.”
Brenton Avdulla has been in the saddle for both wins this campaign but is suspended on Saturday, meaning Regan Bayliss takes over. However, in a vote of confidence for the three-year-old, Avdulla is in isolation to ride at the Magic Millions and hoping Private Eye can make the Guineas field.
“He is waiting to see if he gets in,” Pride said. “He is going to be borderline with a win, but if he does he would deserve to be in that race and we want to go to the Gold Coast.”
Pride has swapped the blinkers for the winkers on Passage Of Time and thinks he can return to his front-running best, which has delivered several of his eight wins.
“I think he is looking for this trip. He has won before at the Kenso and I’m hoping he can go forward and get some control,” Pride said.
“He meets that Edison 5½ kilos better with Chris Williams’ claim, who has won on him before. Being that bit older, he is just taking a bit more time to come to hand, but he is showing the right signs.”
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald
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