Racing: Pierro puts reputation on line

By Mandy Cottell

Pierro (left) was last season's top juvenile but has lost some of his lustre after two defeats in Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images
Pierro (left) was last season's top juvenile but has lost some of his lustre after two defeats in Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images

Star Sydneysider Pierro has already cemented his status as one of the best colts of his generation.

However, in an ominous sign for his rivals, one of the men who knows him best believes he is a more complete horse this campaign.

Former jockey Mark Newnham, now right-hand man to trainer Gai Waterhouse, rides Pierro in the bulk of his work and even made a recent comeback to partner him in a barrier trial.

He says last year's Golden Slipper winner and Cox Plate placegetter has improved since the spring, physically and mentally.

"He's bigger and stronger," Newnham said. "I think he has taken another step. He's just a more mature horse."

Unbeaten as a juvenile, Pierro suffered his first defeat in the Caulfield Guineas when he was chased down by All Too Hard after a tough run on the speed.

Pierro will get his first chance to stake a claim for the title of Australia's best colt when he resumes in the group two Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill tomorrow.

He is a resounding favourite at $1.75, ahead of the unbeaten Rebel Dane ($4.60) and his Waterhouse-trained stablemate Proisir ($7.50).

Proisir was runner-up in the Spring Champion Stakes at just his fourth start and wasn't disgraced when eighth in the Cox Plate at his fifth.

Like Pierro, he hasn't raced since the weight-for-age championship but his future looks bright.

However, when it comes to the Hobartville, Newnham echoes the sentiments of punters and says Pierro is the pick of the pair as he is naturally more forward than his chunkier stablemate.

"They're a bit different physically. Proisir is more a heavily built colt so it's only natural he would take a bit longer to come to his peak.

"I just hope they both finish their campaigns with group one wins. One has done it and one is promising to do it."

Pierro is undefeated first-up and has never lost a race in Sydney.

He will jump from barrier nine, while Proisir has drawn the outside in the field of 11.

Earlier on the card, Ichihara, who has a liking for the distance and has proven her credentials, will still face a tough test against some promising gallopers.

The Allan Denham-trained 3-year-old has paid the price for her consistency and will carry top weight of 59kg in the listed Fireball Quality which is bursting with up-and-coming gallopers.

Among her rivals will be undefeated Rick Worthington-trained filly Golden Sunshine, smart Victorian Lampedusa for Peter Moody and the John O'Shea pair of Knight Exemplar, to be ridden by James McDonald, and Charge Account.

They are progressive 3-year-olds and Ichihara will be conceding at least 4.5kg to them all. AAP

- NZ Herald

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