Kerrin McEvoy has one less thing to worry about ahead of Saturday’s Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) after Sepoy drew perfectly for the $1 million event at Caulfield.
Darley’s Victorian Nominations Manager, Andy Makiv, plucked barrier five for the versatile Peter Snowden-trained colt in Victoria’s richest two-year-old race, which has attracted a field of 14.
McEvoy, who went to the draw at Catanach’s Jewellers in Armidale hoping for anywhere between barriers two and seven, was understandably happy.
“It looks like a nice marble to have the way the field has drawn out,” McEvoy said. “It gives us a few options once the barriers open on Saturday.
“He’s very versatile – he could lead, he could sit wherever – so we’ll just get a plan together between now and Saturday, but I’d be quite confident in saying he’d be in the first three or four, depending on how quick they go.”
Last Saturday’s Talindert Stakes winner Anevay looks the likely leader after landing gate three, while Danny O’Brien’s Running Tall (one), Lee Freedman-trained late entry Atomic (two) and Peter Moody-trained filly Hollowell Belle (four) also drew to take up a forward position.
Mick price’s talented filly Holdontoyahorses drew barrier seven, Maribyrnong Plate winner Arctic Command is out in 10, Freedman’s other runner Masthead drew 13, while Robbie Laing’s pair Grand Brittania and Spectrolite came up with 11 and 14 respectively.
The bad news for Sepoy’s rivals is that McEvoy hinted there should be improvement in the son of Elusive Quality, who is striving to become the first horse since Bel Esprit in 2002 to clean sweep the Blue Diamond series after dominant wins in the Preview and Prelude.
Although McEvoy hasn’t ridden him in any of his three starts, the Sydney-based hoop had trackwork sessions aboard him last Thursday and this morning (Tuesday) and liked what he felt.
“He’s probably that little bit more fitter,” McEvoy said. “Peter and Paul (Snowden) have just had him primed for this, his third run in, so you might expect a little bit more (fitness).
“But it’s scary to think he could get any better than the way he’s been winning.”
“I’ve ridden him a couple of times now. Mentally he seems in a great spot, he’s nice and relaxed and he’s got that great little attitude. He looks a picture, this morning’s work was nice and he gave me a nice feel, so it all points to a nice run on Saturday.”
Sepoy tightened into $1.65 with TAB Sportsbet after the draw with Hallowell Belle ($9) and Atomic ($12) the only others under $18.
And there will be no animosity between McEvoy and Zahra, who has surrendered the ride despite partnering Sepoy to all three wins, if he justifies that quote.
Darley’s pecking order among jockeys is well established and McEvoy said Zahra, whose partner Michelle Payne is the sister of McEvoy’s wide Cathy, had been forthcoming with tips on how best to ride Sepoy.
“Mark and I speak about the horses week to week and he’s great like that,” McEvoy said.
“Mark and me are good friends and it’s probably lucky that we are really. But I’m Sheikh Mohammed’s number one jockey and I’m employed by him to ride his best horses, so it’s my job to do that.
“It’s a big assignment for myself and the horse, but I don’t feel any extra pressure stepping into this role on Saturday.”
The Patinack Farm Blue Diamond is Race 7 on Saturday nine-event card, timed to go at 4.10pm.
It is one of three Group 1s on the Caulfield program with fields for the others – the $400,000 Rokk Ebony Futurity Stakes and $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate – to be finalised along with the fields for the other six races on Wednesday morning.