The Simon Miller-trained Hardly Ever was pushed hard by jockey Patrick Carbery ahead of her fourth task in today’s Own The Dream Registrations Now Open Handicap (1600m) at Ascot.
The four-year-old Nicconi, who beat subsequent winner Real Danger two starts ago, finished a close fourth to The Velvet Queen on her last appearance on December 24 after treading deep.
Carbery was full of praise for the gallant performance and is optimistic the mare can get back on the winning list tomorrow.
“The last start was a huge run,” he told The Sports Daily.
“Off the track, I worked all the way and still looked like a winner at 150.
“I thought it was one of the best runs of her career.
“She tried really hard and she had every right to die before she did.
“She should run away from the barrier well, so hopefully she can start fulfilling what she’s been promising us for a long time.
Purchased by Miller for $18,000 at the 2019 Australian Inglis Weanling Sale, Hardly Ever has earned $156,900 from three wins and four minor placings in his 12-start career to date.
TABtouch installed her as the $2.60 swiftbet favorite for tomorrow’s race.
Carbery is also a promising stablemate for Pink Carats ($16) and can return to his best form when he steps out in the Glenroy Chaff Handicap (1000m).
The I Am Invincible gelding was unplaced in two wet races over the winter before looking back on the track with two impressive trial wins at Lark Hill in November and December, but was disappointed to finish eighth on his return to the race on 24 December. after racing furiously and covering more ground.
“It’s up to him if he wants to start using his brain a little bit,” Carbery said.
“He gave Brad (Parnham) a terrible ride first.
“He lasted really well, but the second day he got a bit moody in the reins and overshot.
“He’s always been his own worst enemy, but we know he’s got a lot of ability – so it’s up to him.”
Carbery will rejoin Miller with the returning Desert Vixen ($4.20) in the TABtouch – Westsped Platinum Handicap (1000m) earlier on the programme.
Four-year-old Rommel resumes a soft trial at Belmont on Monday and Carbery expects the mare to improve in tomorrow’s run.
“She seems to have come out of court well, I worked with her yesterday,” Carbery said.
“She will probably be fitter after this run and this run will probably put her at her peak.
“She’s a bit sticky, but if she gets going properly she should be there with some chance.”
Carbery will also ride Kelvinator ($8.50), Magniforce ($17), My Boy Eddy ($9.50), Samizdat ($23) and Stylax ($4.40) on the nine-race card.
Meanwhile, trainer Chris Willis is confident Kerman Rock ($5.50)’s last-start demolition of his rivals was no fluke as he looks set to score back-to-back wins for the first time in his 34-start career at Morley Growers. Handicap on the market (1800m).
The tongue-wagging five-year-old son of the late Snippetson snaps an 860-day drought by leading all the way and romping by 10.6 lengths at Ascot on December 21.
While Willis is cautious about the drop from 2200m to 1800m, he says he couldn’t be happier with his horse.
“(The distance drop) is the only problem,” Willis said.
“The fact that Julie Mitchell’s horse got on our Norman and ran last probably cost him the race last Saturday and I just hope the same thing doesn’t happen to this guy.”
“If he can find a front and mix in his work – which is the only thing I can go by – I would expect him to do something similar.
“He’s a bit of a mystery horse, but hopefully this time he can put a few together.
“He should be very hard to beat.
In other news, Bullsbrook trainer Jim Taylor hopes the addition of blinkers will see On The Full show his earlier promise for the first time in tomorrow’s TABtouch – Westspeed Platinum Handicap (1000m).
The Rogan gelding flashed his ability with a debut win followed by two second-place finishes as a three-year-old late in the season, but went unplaced in two starts this campaign.
“He got to the front first and was found to be a little short, then he was second in the field and Laqdar seemed to think he wasn’t appreciating the horses all around him,” Taylor said.
“We always wanted to give him blinkers, but he was a bit of an unfinished horse and a very sensitive horse.
“He’s just started to settle in enough that we think we can give them to him now.”
“They should sharpen him up a bit.
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