Golden boy? Freedmans unearth Excellent talent
EXCLLENT Proposal maintained his unbeaten record while luck again deserted easing favourite Mandela at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Mandela, who opened at $2.05 before starting $2.45 favourite, missed the start slightly and settled sixth on the rails in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1400m).
With the two-year-olds racing in a tight bunch, there was nowhere for Mandela to go as jockey Tim Clark searched in vain for clear galloping room from the top of the straight before finishing only fifth.
The race didn't go to plan for Excellent Proposal either, which added merit to the chestnut colt's strong win.
"We didn't think there was a lot of pace on paper so we expected Excellent Proposal to be right up there, possibly even in front,'' co-trainer Michael Freedman said.
"But he wasn't the best to begin and ended up back in the field three wide with cover.
''I THINK HE'S GOT A GOOD FUTURE'' - @Haynsie75 spoke co-trainer Michael Freedman after Excellent Proposal caused an upset @royalrandwick, and @brentonavdaulla spoke to @PaulJoice1 after the victory. pic.twitter.com/koLCVi7LPx— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) July 20, 2019
"Brenton Avdulla is great rider and took the option to take a trail. I guess it is good for the colt's education to take a sit and finish off the way he did.''
Excellent Proposal ($11) finished strongly to run down game filly Pixel Perfect ($31) to win by a head with Frosty Rocks ($11) nearly a length away third.
Havin' Fun looked to have every chance before finishing fourth, Mandela was still trying to get out and War Baron (sixth) also raced without luck.
"He upset himself a bit in the gates and ended up on the back foot so we settled midfield,'' Avdulla said of Excellent Proposal.
"It turned out to be the right spot because I had Timmy (Clark, Mandela) and others on my inside and I was always going to get clear air.''
Excellent Proposal has now won his only two starts - he also scored narrowly on debut at Kembla Grange - and is a rising three-year-old with potential.
"He's a promising colt, you can't do much more than win your first two starts,'' Freedman said. "He's still very raw and doing a few things wrong but he has a great attitude.
"We will have a think about it now but we might give him a bit of a freshen up now and look at some better races in the spring.''
Excellent Proposal was entered for Warwick Farm last Wednesday but co-trainer Richard Freedman decided to wait for yesterday's race even though it was a stronger field.
"I was away on holidays when Richard rang Wednesday morning and said he was thinking about scratching from the Warwick Farm race,'' Michael Freedman said. "I left it to him to make the decision and he's pulled the right rein.''
The Freedman brothers do have a good opinion of Excellent Proposal's potential and have entered the colt for the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 28.
"The way he hit the line today I would think this colt will get up to a mile (1600m) at least,'' Freedman said. "There's plenty of upside with this colt.''
Irish Songs hit right note
IRISH Songs scored a deserved while favourite backers were burned again when Healing Hands missed a place at Royal Randwick.
In what was virtually a replay of what happened to juvenile Mandela in the opener, Healing Hands ($2.90 favourite) missed the start, settled on the rails back in the field, was held up for much of the straight and never got into the race when only ninth in the TAB Highway (1100m).
Greg Ryan, NSW's leading jockey with 163.5 wins, made a rare trip to Sydney to ride the Gayna Williams-trained Healing Hands and conceded nothing went right for the sprinter.
"Healing Hands feels like he needs 1400m already,'' Ryan said. "We were hoping he was still fresh enough for 1100m but that one trial has obviously taken the edge off him. He was slow to begin which didn't help either. We are going to have to try to do something about starts.''
.#THEKOSCIUSZKO BOUND! Trainer @KurtGoldman2 has a new chance for the big race in Irish Songs, after a great win @royalrandwick @atc_races today, and jockey Sam Clipperton told @Haynsie75 the horse still has a bit to learn. pic.twitter.com/u854dwTNE7— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) July 20, 2019
As everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Healing Hands, Irish Songs finally got a race run to suit and he duly delivered.
The Kurt Goldman-trained Irish Songs ($8.50) was patiently ridden by Sam Clipperton before unleashing a powerful surge from the top of the straight, accelerating through the field and racing away to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths from Lady Demi ($15) with Bellastar ($31) a long head away third.
Irish Songs had run third twice and then fourth in successive Highways this campaign and was finally rewarded for his consistency.
"This horse deserved that Highway win,'' Clipperton said. "He was very impressive today but he's not just a Highway horse, he is a genuine Sydney Saturday-Class horse.''