Cat ready to pounce
A crack at next month’s Villiers Stakes is on the cards for Big Red Cat if he continues his strong form at Rosehill on Saturday.
The four-year-old lines up in the Baird Institute Handicap (1500m).
Trainer David Payne said the gelding was no star but when it came to toughness he was up there with the best.
Big Red Cat comes into the race after a gritty all-the-way 1-1/2 length win over Dubai To Sydney at Randwick on November 7.
That win came over the same 1600m distance as the Group Two Villiers Stakes at Randwick on December 19.
"If he steps up we might have a look at the Villiers," Payne said.
"It’s a similar field again and he’ll be going forward again and hopefully we can get the same result."
Big Red Cat has 55kg and will be ridden by three kilogram-claiming apprentice Timothy Bell.
The strapping chestnut has drawn wide in barrier 12 but that is of no concern to the Rosehill trainer.
"He’s a natural frontrunner and puts himself in the race early no matter where he jumps from," Payne said.
"He’s tough as nails this horse and I know he’ll be putting in everything he’s got, he always does."
Stablemate Sequinella will go up against Big Red Cat in what could be her final race.
The five-year-old Catbird mare has not raced since failing to beat a runner home at Randwick on a heavy track over 1800 metres in July.
"This is her last prep. She’s done us well, she was a cheap filly at $30,000 and she could go to stud after this race," Payne said.
"She’s been very honest and been a good money earner for the stable."
Sequinella has racked up nearly $240,000 prizemoney in 33 starts with four wins and nine placings.
In March, she was less than half a length away when fourth to subsequent Chairman’s Handicap winner Divine Rebel in the Listed Epona Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill.
Payne also has a couple of two-year-olds in the opening race at Rosehill, the Asbestos Disease Foundation Of Australia Handicap (1100m).
Johannesburg filly Star Lass defeated Lotus Flower by a length on debut at Randwick over 1000 metres on November 7 and will carry just 53.5kg after Bell’s allowance.
"She’s done very well since Randwick and the claim is certainly going to help," Payne said.
"Tim is a good young rider who listens and I’m sure he’ll do well on her."
Payne has opted for experience for debutante Smash Hit with Chris Munce to ride the Danehill Dancer filly.
"I think she might be the better one later on," Payne said.
"She’ll run a good race on Saturday as well."
Smash Hit has been given two trials with her latest effort on November 10 at Rosehill where she defeated Miss Veronica by a 1-1/4 lengths.
By Russell Jackson