WALLER MARKS INTENTIONS WITH COUNTERATTACK
By Nicholas Coleman
As keen form students we often seek gear changes as a sign of intent. Sometimes intention is associated with the adjustment of gear, other times it calls for horses resuming with their favourite piece. Waller had many punters questioning Counterattack’s readiness for his pipe opener in the Eskimo Prince last preparation, when the blinkers were removed for the preference of winkers. Tomorrow, Counterattack heads to the Theo Marks Stakes with his blinkers on and a good sign the stable is feeling bullish about his prospects.
It’s hard not to get excited about Counterattack’s winning claims when closely exploring his profile. He had a similar preparation to ‘glamour girl’ Winx before she went on to win the 2015 edition of the race last year. She had a productive autumn campaign, followed by a life changing trip north of the border, to now racing’s superstar status. Further evidence of the Queensland winter being the ‘trip of a lifetime’ is supported by Hauraki’s win last week in the Tramway.
Many attentive trial scouts would have been impressed by the latest trial of Counterattack. It brought back memories of Good Project’s trial this time last year. Free striding in the lead and full of running. Amazingly Good Project went on to produce a stellar campaign that season and was crowned a group 1 winner on our western shores.
Furthermore, the conditions of tomorrow’s contest have a tendency to favour those who seek weight relief from the handicapper. Races of such nature are designed for horses still climbing on an upward spiral, not yet to have found their true rating. Both Southern Legend and Counterattack have further improvement beckoning, and early price assessors have acted accordingly.
It appears if value is to be found, it lies within the two ‘up and comers’ just mentioned. A strong case can be made for Counterattack to be priced favourite ahead of his fellow combatant. They have met once before on the same battle ground back in the early autumn. On that day the market expectation were slightly in Counterattack’s favour. The 2 metre rail on that occasion favoured those sucking up and pinching ground, hence the inside draws exceeding expectations throughout the afternoon. Southern Legend was gifted clear running in the straight after saving energy in transit. Counterattack on the other hand was a victim of barrier 11, trying to state his claims in the three wide running line. He was also without his head gear; tomorrow it will not be left in his locker.