Former Gundagai trainer Todd Smart will have two chances in today’s 2300m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Goulburn, with Hallo Poppet drawing gate one and Attainment set to jump from gate six in the first event on the card.
Hallo Poppet will have the services of Rory Hutchings, while Attainment will be guided by Frenchman, Jean Van Overmeire and Smart believes both will be live chances.
“It is a pretty even race, if it’s a heavy track, those big weights at the top that we are up against might struggle and my two get in nicely,” Smart said.
“Weight is a big thing in these longer distances races and Hallo Poppet is only carrying 58 (kg) and Attainment has 55.5 (kg).”
Smart said the distance was the only query with both gallopers, and the Canberra trainer was praying for rain, as both preferred some cut out of the ground.
“I am just hoping there is more rain tonight, or tomorrow, then we will be some sort of hope,” Smart said.
Hallo Poppet was a good winner over the mile journey at Canberra three starts ago, but didn’t fare well last start when tried over 2100m for the first time.
“I think we missed the boat last start; it was a good three track and we got back and the bird had already flown because it ended up being a leader biased track and she was not a hope after being so far back,” Smart said.
“It’s hard this time, because when these long distances races are the first race, you don’t know what the bias will be, so this time we will try and get in behind the leaders from the good draw.”
Smart said Hallo Poppet should run the distance on breeding alone.
“I think she should; her father was an out and out stayer and her mother ran out the trip, although she wasn’t much good,” Smart said.
As far as Attainment goes, the Goulburn specialist and mudlark has not performed past 1600m.
“It’s a bit of a wait and see for Attainment, he hasn’t got out to the trip at all but he loves Goulburn,” Smart said.
Attainment will be ridden very quietly for the first 1000m though, in the hope he grinds home over the extra distance.
“The plan will be to go back and give him a really easy first half and let him grind the last 1000m,” Smart said.
The nine-year-old, who could very well be having his last start for the stable, has been a good earner with over $170,000 in prize money from his 69-start career.
“He has been unreal,” Smart said. “I’ve never had a horse that’s got through the wet as good as him.
“He wins a race every preparation and early on he ran four or five placings at in (TAB) Highways.”
The popular trainer will have a busy few days too, heading off to Narrandera on Saturday and Leeton on Monday.