The Simon Miller-trained Hardly Ever has been given a strong push by jockey Patrick Carbery ahead of her fourth-up assignment in tomorrow’s Own The Dream Registrations Now Open Handicap (1600m) at Ascot.
A winner over subsequent back-to-back victor Real Danger two starts ago, the Nicconi four-year-old ran a close fourth to The Velvet Queen at her last appearance on December 24 after tramping deep throughout.
Carbery was full of praise for the gallant performance and is bullish the mare can return to the winner’s list tomorrow.
“It was a huge run last start,” he told The Sports Daily.
“Off the track, worked the whole way and still looked the winner at the 150.
“I thought it was one of her career-best runs.
“She tried really hard and was entitled to die off well before she did.
“She should get a good run from the barrier so hopefully she can start delivering what she’s promised us for a long time.”
Purchased by Miller for $18,000 at the 2019 Australian Inglis Weanling Sale, Hardly Ever has banked $156,900 from three wins and four minor placings throughout her 12-start career to date.
TABtouch have installed her as the $2.60 favourite for tomorrow’s race.
Carbery is also hopeful stablemate Pink Carats ($16) can return to his best form when he steps out in the Glenroy Chaff Handicap (1000m).
The I Am Invincible gelding was unplaced in two runs on wet tracks during the winter then looked back on track when producing two impressive trial wins at Lark Hill in November and December, however, he disappointed to run finish eight at his race return on December 24 after racing fiercely and covering additional ground.
“It’s up to him if he wants to start using his brains a bit,” Carbery said.
“He gave Brad (Parnham) a terrible ride first-up.
“He had been trialling really well but he was in a bit of a mood in the barriers the other day and he over-raced.
“He’s always been his own worst enemy but we know he’s got a lot of ability – so it depends on him.”
Carbery will team up with Miller again with the returning Desert Vixen ($4.20) in the TABtouch – Westsped Platinum Handicap (1000m) earlier on the program.
The Rommel four-year-old resumes off the back of a soft trial at Belmont on Monday and Carbery expects the mare to improve off tomorrow’s run.
“She seems to have pulled up from the trial well, I worked her yesterday,” Carbery said.
“She’s probably going to be better suited after this run and this run will probably bring her to her top.
“She’s drawn a bit sticky but if she gets the right run she should be in there with a chance.”
Carbery will also ride Kelvinator ($8.50), Magniforce ($17), My Boy Eddy ($9.50), Samizdat ($23) and Stylax ($4.40) on the nine-race card.
Meanwhile, trainer Chris Willis is confident Kerman Rock’s ($5.50) demolition of his rivals last start wasn’t a flash in the pan as looks to score back-to-back wins for the first time in his 34-start career in the Morley Growers Market Handicap (1800m).
A son of the late Snippetson, the five-year-old set tongues wagging when breaking an 860-day drought by leading all-the-way and romping in by 10.6 lengths at Ascot on December 21.
Whilst Willis is cautious about the drop back from 2200m to 1800m, he says he couldn’t be happier with his horse.
“The (drop in distance) is the only concern,” Willis said.
“The fact that Julie Mitchell’s horse took Our Norman on and ran last and probably cost him the race last Saturday and I’m just hoping the same thing doesn’t happen with this bloke.
“If he could find the front and bowl along, on his work – which is all I can be guided by – I’d expect him to do something similar.
“He’s a bit of an enigmatic horse but hopefully this time he can string a few together.
“He should be very hard to beat.”
In other news, Bullsbrook trainer Jim Taylor is hoping the addition of blinkers for the first time will see On The Full display his earlier promise in tomorrow’s TABtouch – Westspeed Platinum Handicap (1000m).
The Rogano gelding flashed ability with a debut win followed by two second placings as a late-season three-year-old during the winter but has finished unplaced in two starts this campaign.
“First-up he got taken on in front and was found wanting a bit then second-up he was in the field and Laqdar seemed to think he didn’t appreciate horses all around him,” Taylor said.
“We’ve always wanted to put blinkers on him but he’s been a bit of a work in progress and a very touchy horse.
“He’s just started to settle down enough that we think we can put them on him now.
“They should sharpen him up a little bit.”
Image – Western Racepix