Mick Price says Ayrton went like a “big dope” when trying to race his way into the Stradbroke Handicap but has now revealed he never considered his hype horse was a pure sprinter.
Ayrton was the raging Stradbroke favourite but failed to win his way into Saturday’s $1.5m Group 1 when tasting defeat for the first time in his four-start career, going down as $1.50 favourite in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic at Eagle Farm on May 29.
The Fred Best was run over 1400m, with Ayrton finishing runner-up behind Desleigh Forster’s galloper Apache Chase who is now a $13 Stradbroke chance after taking out the “win and you’re in” Fred Best.
Ayrton has never stretched out beyond 1400m but will on Saturday when he chases a consolation prize on Stradbroke day, set to line up in the $200,000 Group 3 Gunsynd Classic at Eagle Farm.
Price, who co-trains with Michael Kent Jr, believes the 1600m will be ideal for Ayrton and he will get over further in time.
“He went like a big dope in the Fred Best,” Price said.
“As I was watching the race I was thinking when is he going to get going, when is he going to put his head down and have a real dip?
“I thought he lost a bit of concentration halfway up the straight for some reason.
“He had a bit of a blow after the race and Jamie Kah said he was still green and she was not convinced that he was as good this (Queensland) way of going.
“But he will be tougher and fitter going into the Gunsynd.
“I think his best distance will be a mile to 2000m.
“I have never thought of him as a sprinter, the races have appeared in the book for him as they have appeared.
“I think the mile will be good for him, he will spell and get ready for the spring in Melbourne after having a good tough time up here in Queensland.”
Ayrton winning at Caulfield. Picture: Racing Photos – Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Despite Ayrton potentially being one of the most talented young horses that the vastly experienced Price has ever put the polish on, he now admits he always feared he could be vulnerable in the Fred Best.
The astute trainer identified Apache Chase was clearly the one to beat, a tough on-pacer who had four previous wins at Eagle Farm to his name going into the Fred Best.
“I’ve been in the game a while and I was concerned that we were facing a course specialist who was going to be up there and on pace and giving a big kick,” Price said.
“They all say that Eagle Farm is a horses for courses track and I take that on board.
“But I was disappointed that Ayrton didn’t flatten out, I don’t think we saw the best of him.
“I was certainly disappointed he didn’t hit the line aggressively.
“But in saying all that, he only got beaten a small margin.”
Ayrton with track rider Tim Suttie. Picture: Brad Fleet.Source:News Corp Australia
Ayrton has been ridden by Jamie Kah in all four starts but she went back to Victoria after winning the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup on Vega One, knowing she would be unable to return to the Sunshine State because of border restrictions.
James McDonald will ride Ayrton on Saturday and will also team up with Price’s Group 1 Thousand Guineas winner Odeum in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m).
Now that Price doesn’t have a Stradbroke runner he will be cheering for Apache Chase, the horse who knocked his galloper out of Stradbroke contention.
However he believes Apache Chase may have his work cut out.
“Not many leaders win the Stradbroke, there is pressure in the sectionals and the race generally sets up for a horse that has had a good run midfield somewhere,” Price said.
“I hope Desleigh (Forster) wins, she is a good trainer and he (Apache Chase) is a nice Eagle Farm horse.”
Originally published as“Big dope’’ Ayrton to make amends on Stradbroke day
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