By Adam Hamilton
YOU can expect to see plenty of Australasia’s most exciting pacer Ride High in coming months.
Trainer Clayton Tonkin has a busy schedule planned and it’s all about gaining him experience and ringcraft ahead of the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10.
Such is the hype around Ride High, he is already $3 prepost favourite with the Aussie TAB for what shapes as a hot Victoria Cup.
The five-year-old will chase his third successive win on the comeback trail at Ballarat next Saturday night and victory would take his record to 13 wins from just 14 starts.
“As good as he is, you don’t want to take a horse into a Victoria Cup at his 16th start or something like that,” Tonkin said. “It’s crazy to think where’s got to so quickly, but he needs more experience and that’s the plan with the time we have.”
Tonkin was planning a surprise Menangle raid to “change-up” Ride High’s preparation, but that’s been thwarted by Victoria’s latest COVID issues.
“We were keen on that, something different. The trip away would’ve been good for him, but also racing at a different track, a different type of racing and new horses,” Tonkin said. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do that for a while, so we’ll just race him every second week down here.”
Thankfully, Harness Racing Victoria’s latest COVID-driven zoned racing will enable consistent free-for-all options for Ride High and the other star open-class pacers, albeit at regional tracks like Ballarat and Bendigo.
Ride High has effectively led throughout for two sparkling wins this campaign, but Tonkin both wants and cannot wait for his stable star to camp off the speed.
“I know people often say it, but you’ll see something special when he gets to stalk the leaders and use his speed. I think that’s when he’ll be at his absolute best,” he said.
“We took him to the trials one day and he sat off some handy horses and we clocked him running 52 and change his last half and doing it easily as he blew them away.
“He’s just got the most amazing speed and, as good as he’s looked these couple of runs back, he’s still building and the best is yet to come.”
In other stable news, Tonkin said he and co-trainer Emma Stewart’s exciting juvenile trotter Utopia is having a freshen-up after winning on debut by almost 90 metres.
“He’s really good. We love him,” Tonkin said. “There’s not a lot around for him, so he’s having a let-up and we’re setting him for the Home Grown series in October.”
Another of their small but select team of trotters, the injury-plagued Alpha Male, is still “about three weeks away” from resuming.
“We had him set to go and he had a little hiccup, nothing serious, but he’s back into now and not far off. Wait until you see him, he’s grown into a monster. He’s enormous and he’s got so much talent,” Tonkin said.
Last season’s Australian 2YO of the Year, Be Happy Mach, is another nearing a racetrack return.
“He’s one of a big batch we’ve got who are about 4-6 weeks off racing,” he said. “The likes of Maajida, Demon Delight, lots of our best two-year-olds … they are all coming-up well and not too far away.”
It’s clear the stable has a massive opinion of Be Happy Mach.
“His suspensory looks good and he’s really well. He’s a top horse, a really serious horse this one,” Tonkin said.