Smart two year old Prague has bounced back from a last start defeat as favourite to secure his spot in the 2020 Golden Slipper with his win in the Group 3 $175,000 Bowermans Commercial Furniture Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill today.
Prague fell out of favour for the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill next Saturday when he finished sixth of nine as the $2.60 favourite in the Group 2 $200,000 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 29 and subsequently went out as a $7.50 chance today in the Pago Pago Stakes.
The well-travelled English jockey Tom Marquand was back in Sydney to take over the reins from Tommy Berry and produced a first class ride to get the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace trained Prague back into contention for the Golden Slipper.
The winner of the Pago Pago Stakes is exempt from the ballot for the Golden Slipper.
“He’s a very relaxed horse and he is still learning his craft. You see last start off a slow pace he just over raced a little bit. He needs to be ridden that way. Tom suits him as a strong rider. Hopefully he sticks with him for next week,” co-trainer Ciaron Maher said
Maher has no concerns about backing up Prague in seven days time and the bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au have halved his Golden Slipper price from $31 to $15 following his win today.
“We thought that if he had to back up that would work as his runs were well spaced early. Tighten him up and peak him for next week. He is a very relaxed colt and racing certainly doesn’t hurt him.
“He is still switching his ears around and he’s still progressing. I know there is a bit more in the tank and maybe the back-up will just switch him on a bit.”
Marquand was aboard Prague for his win in the Group 3 $160,000 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on February 1 and the Englishman has the Redoudte’s Choice colt in the firing line from the outset.
Prague was strong at the end of the 1200m and recorded a one and a half lengths win over the Gerald Ryan trained Kumasi ($4.80) with I Am Swerving ($11) a further half a length away in third spot.
The Greg Eurell trained Ilovemyself was sent out as the $3.80 favourite and after sitting at the tail of the field for most of the race, only passed a couple of runners in the straight to finish sixth, six lengths from the winner.
Jockey Nash Rawiller said the Ilovemyself struck trouble shortly after the start and wasn’t comfortable on the rain affected track.
“He got badly checked at the start. Raced a bit green. Didn’t handle the ground. Very nice horse,” Rawiller said.