Racing: Atlante has true grit for Guineas

By Mike Dillon

El Roca is the favourite for the Guineas but is coming off a seven-day back-up. Photo / Race Images
El Roca is the favourite for the Guineas but is coming off a seven-day back-up. Photo / Race Images

If you thought Atlante's first-up run in Sydney was too much of a gut-buster to make him a chance in today's A$605,000 ($638,000) Randwick Guineas, trainer Murray Baker's advice is think again.

In his first race start in four months, Atlante endured a home straight-long battle with Dissident in the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill two weeks ago, being beaten in a close photo finish.

It's a run that would have flattened any number of horses.

"This is no ordinary horse in terms of toughness," Baker told the Weekend Herald from Sydney yesterday. "He simply bounced through that run and hasn't left a feed the entire time he's been here in Australia. He's remarkable in that area."

Atlante did not appreciate the slow footing at Rosehill for the Hobartville and at the 700m looked to be struggling to the point he appeared ready to drop out of contention.

His grit kicked in and he came back so strongly he nearly took the race off Dissident and Jim Cassidy.

The performance did not surprise his trainer.

"Remember when he won the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton he was headed late in the race and came back to take the decision. He's one tough horse."

Atlante faces a strong field in today's Guineas, including Dissident again and fellow New Zealander El Roca. On the New Zealand TAB El Roca is the $4 favourite ahead of Atlante at $5.50, but on TAB.com.au there is a significantly wider gap between the pair - El Roca at $3.80 and Atlante $6.50.

El Roca is coming off a seven-day back-up, a necessity when an irregularity forced his withdrawal from the Hobartville Stakes the previous week.

He looked good fighting back impressively to go under narrowly to Terravista at Warwick Farm last Saturday and co-trainer Trent Busuttin is not concerned backing up a week later.

"It doesn't look ideal, but we've got the horse exactly where we want him.

"He's a gross colt and hasn't worried about it."

The No14 barrier draw looks problematic on paper and rider Hugh Bowman has some work to do to get the colt into the right position.

Baker believes his other Guineas runner Show The World, making his Australian debut, will find the 1600m too short.

"As long as he's running on I'll be happy.

"He's had a trial over here and I'm pleased with him."

Show The World has had only four race starts yet is currently the second favourite behind Puccini for the Australian Derby. He is $7 on the New Zealand TAB and $8 in Australia.

That might surprise a few, but not Baker.

"Well, he can stay and a lot of the Australian 3-year-olds are not stayers. Punters obviously realise he's by High Chaparall from a Zabeel mare that won over 3200m."

Baker says It's A Dundeel has improved significantly from his first-up second to Boban at Warwick Farm last weekend. Rider James McDonald copped something of a mild bagging for his ride on the stallion on the Australian programme Racing Retro, but Baker wasn't too disappointed with McDonald.

"He's still on the horse, that's for sure."

- NZ Herald

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