Kembla, Narromine races: Jockey Keagan Latham in box seat for early winner
Leading provincial rider Keagan Latham knows two things about the first race at Kembla Grange on Thursday – he’s riding a much improved horse and his main rivals won’t have the fitness levels his mount has.
Latham rides Highmaster in a Class 1 Handicap (1500m) after trainer John Thompson booked him for the ride soon after he ran second first-up at Newcastle over 1400m.
“I rode him in one of his first starts when he was still with Gwenda (Markwell). I ran third on him at Canberra,” Latham said. “He’s a horse that’s taken such a long time to grow into himself because he’s so big, but it looks like he’s starting to put things together now.”
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And he knows his two rivals very well.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have been trialling the top weight Deadly Impact and I’ve also won on Unamerican as well so I know a lot of the form,” Latham said.
“I’d imagine Unamerican would need the run first-up and the same with Deadly Impact and Highmaster looks the best of the three in that race.”
The Kembla track was rated a good 4 on Wednesday.Source:News Limited
Highmaster will get into a prominent position in the run from an inside gate and after being formally trained by Gwenda Markwell he won’t mind the trip south.
“He ran a really good race at his first run back from a spell against Bucharest,” Latham said.
“He won’t be a stranger to the Kembla track wither because he used to call that place home and he won his maiden there.”
A horse Latham’s had more to do with of late is Tudor Music and he’ll ride him in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) after running into a red-hot Joviality at Warwick Farm when fourth last start.
The Greg Hickman-trained filly won her two prior races in the bush and this is her chance to do it again.
“I really like her and Greg’s always put here in the right races where she’s been competitive,” Latham said. “She’s only had a few starts in town and her last start in was strong against Joviality who might be a Stakes horse later on.
“This looks like the right kind of race. It’s her grade.”
Latham will ride her how she lands from the wide gate but expects her to show early speed.
Trainer Greg Hickman will chase another win with Tudor Music at Kembla Grange. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“She’s a very versatile filly who can come from off the speed or be in the box seat. Myself and Greg have a good relationship and he generally allows me to what’s best,” Latham said.
“We’ll probably go forward but I still wouldn’t want to overuse her because she is a young horse against a few older ones.”
Budhwar is Latham’s other ride on the day and although it will be his first opportunity on the Brooke Somers four-year-old he’s excited by the prospect.
Budhwar has placed in all three runs this time in.
“I have been watching his form over the past few weeks and he’s been consistent,” Latham said. “He’s an on-speed horse and the conditions will probably suit him. If we can be up there, and even get an easy lead, hopefully he can keep kicking to the winning line.”
Scalded is out to prove at Narromine that her past two wins weren’t just a result of a wet track for trainer Rob Potter, who is confident she can do it on top of the ground.
The Sidestep four-year-old won twice at Albury leading into Thursday’s Benchmark 58 Handicap (1100m) and they were on heavy and soft surfaces. Her first win, on a Heavy 10, was a six-length romp before a 1¼ length win last start on a drier, but still rain-affected, track.
“Albury was a Soft 5. I don’t think it will be an issue but we’ll know for sure after this race,” Potter said. “Her work on a firm surface was fine and we’re just picking and choosing our races with her.
“She’s really progressed this time around and has brained them at her past two runs. She had run some good race before but was a filly that needed to mature in the brain. She’s turned into a racehorse now and she’s still got a lot to come.”
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Scalded has led many of her races and that will be the plan again on Thursday with regular rider Richard Bensley to ride her out of barrier six.
“They tend to roll along a bit out there. We’ll go forward and be outside the leader,” Potter said. “She travels very well and while I’m not over confident, I’m quietly confident.
“She’s been winning without straining herself and she’s developed a good relationship with the jockey. It’s hard to win a race after your maiden and she did it. This is the same sort of race again.”
Potter said this would likely be her last run this time in.
“She’s had a few heavy runs so it would’ve taken a bit out of her. It’s hard to spell them when they’re going the way she is and she hasn’t missed an oat and everything is spot on,” he said. “We’ll aim up next preparation for a Highway. That’s where we’re aiming.”
Originally published asKembla preview: Latham holds whip hand over rivals
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