Adam Durrant enters Wednesday’s Ascot meeting with renewed confidence as his faith in Crystal Gardens has been restored.
Perth’s premier trainer says Crystal Gardens only needs to repeat her first-up win at Pinjarra and she will be hard to beat in the Tabtouch.com.au Handicap (1400m).
The Blackfriars mare capitalised on a dream rails run two weeks ago and finished powerfully to defeat favourite, Rare Delight by a dominant three lengths.
Crystal Gardens bounced back and atoned in the manner Durrant was searching for after he conceded she performed below expectations last year.
After showing a stack of promise with two wins and two placings from her first four starts, Crystal Gardens suffered a fruitless winter campaign.
“She was disappointing last preparation as I thought she was always going to be above average,” said Durrant on Tabradio.
“She just didn’t fire, wasn’t interested in her racing and didn’t want to be there.
“I went back and had a look at her maiden campaign and thought I may have overrated her.
“Although there wasn’t a huge amount in the Pinjarra race she certainly showed she was back to her best form.
“She ran through the line and pulled up really well which was not one of her characteristics last preparation.
“If she reproduces the run from the other day and gets no bad luck she is probably close to a good thing.”
Durrant says Dark Rhythm has not gone backwards since shedding her maiden status at Pinjarra when she held out Sky Rhythm by a half head.
The pair renew their battle along with strong rivals Rare Delight, Rodeo Drive and Mudlode in the Westspeed Handicap (1400m).
Drawn in barrier seven for Peter Knuckey, Durrant believes Dark Rhythm is in with better than even claims of going back-to-back.
“Hopefully the 1400 metres will suit and her work has been very good since.
I don’t think she is going to produce anything less than she has previously.
“It looks a winnable race for sure.”
Drumnoorum is building to peak fitness after his third run in he ran 2 ¼ lengths third to Night Prowler.
The Key Business seven-year-old gives jockey Jordan Turner a chance for bragging honours in the National Apprentices’ Challenge (1500m).
“I’m not sure he got through the slippery conditions the other day,” said Durrant.
“I think it favoured horses with the capacity to run a strong 1600 or 1800 metres.
“With the conditions it was a bit of a slog.
“Whether he couldn’t get through the going or was actually plain we will find out on a firmer track.
“But he is racing well and won this race last year.”
Durrant said Banana Boy will find it too short and Socially Unique is a work in progress when they clash in the Westspeed Handicap (1400m).
He also stated They Call Me Lisa, one of 11 starters in the Westspeed Stayers’ Bonus Handicap (2200m), would come into her own next preparation.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli