Smith hurtling towards first Group I

Smith hurtling towards first Group IWarwick Farm trainer Matthew Smith will shoot for his maiden Group I success when he saddles up Hurtle Myrtle in the Tattersall’s Tiara Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

The four-year-old mare has hit a purple patch of form since overcoming niggling injuries with a stunning last-to-first win in the Group II Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 9 upon returning from a let-up.

Two starts later the daughter of Dane Shadow showed its versatility when sitting one-out-one-back and proving too strong for a class field in the Group II Dane Ripper (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.

Smith said the good barrier at Eagle Farm allowed his mare to dominate by settling closer to the speed without dulling her finishing sprint.

“I don’t think she’s ever received a run like the one she got in the Dane Ripper,” Smith said.

“From the barrier she was able to slot in only a couple off the speed and it made things a lot easier from there.”

Smith said the barrier draw will be a crucial factor in Saturday’s result.

“I think there’s about five or six mares that are on par with each other and sit just behind Beaded. The barrier draw will pretty important for everyone,” he said.

Hurtle Myrtle has competed at the elite level on two occasions. The mare ran third behind More Joyous in the Flight Stakes (1600m) and the following preparation finished fifth behind Alverta in the 2010 Coolmore Classic (1500m).

The winner of three races from 15 starts and over $400,000 in prizemoney, Hurtle Myrtle is growing a reputation as one of Australia’s top mares in training. With two of its wins and around $230,000 of its prizemoney coming in its last three starts, Hurtle Myrtle could just be establishing itself as a major player in Group racing.