With the Amethyst final running this weekend I had the pleasure to squirrel with one of the leading trainers: Patrick Hogan of Karaka Breeders, away into a closed room to discuss his horse Not Too Soon.
Many good judges around the traps are calling Not Too Soon the horse to beat, why do you think this is?
I honestly think rating has something to do with it. The style can be a negative though. Very tricky, quite a few stalkers in the race
Well they have to be held up until the last quarter. If they hit the lead before the last quarter, they lose there finish. In the 3yo breeders I got away with it, as the second horse ran out of gas, but the Sphinx run was better timed.
The stalker style isn’t one you have been seen using a lot, and now you have said it is very tricky, what made you choose to train this horse up?
Highest OR of its generation and future stud. Think if he was born a competitive he would be more brilliant, winning easier
Is that your normal process of choosing?
For a future stud, yes. Great head start in OR I like my sires closer to or at 90. I even used the biomech for a slight advantage during its 2yo training, costly though.
OK so you changed your breeding stock over a few seasons back, how do you think this has affected your breeding and racing programs?
Well I’ve experimented too and that was a bit of a roadblock. So it’s probably set me back a few seasons. But now looking to get my groove back, tricky dealing with bloodlines full of Jobim, Fishbrain, and Hairboy
Have you found a good outcross or 2 that you can share or are you keeping that close to your chest?
Especially with everyone breeding these days, I don’t think there’s too many secrets. Although I’ve found when you get a match right I continue to go down the same path eg. Not Too Soon. The season before I got a 5 with the same pairing; speculated that it wouldn’t give me two 5s in a row, so bred the same mid season to cancel that out so to speak and it worked as Not Too Soon was the product of that experiment. The mid season result was a low 4, but you have to get the pairing right first, that’s the tricky bit Grey Ghost just matched with Imagine Dragons.
OK so now back to the upcoming Amethyst Cup: Firstly What are your thoughts on his heat performance and how has he come out of it?
I went easy in the heat, thought he finished off OK, Ersins stalker finished better though. He’s a good trainer of stalkers. I did my homework by looking at Seek and Destroys runs, but mine came out better in health than most due to that easier run.
Are you aware that the winner of your heat broke the 4yo world record for the going and distance?
Sorry, didn’t pick up on that.
With the “bunnies” running that fast out in front, do you think it will be hard for all the stalkers to pick them up?
The ground was slow, but the final should have good ground. The competitives do well on all surfaces, but still Secret Aurora is overdue to win I feel. [He is a] Very good horse, I would not be surprise at all if it was a blood bath with Secret Aurora winning easy. The early sprinters will be leaders early, then I see Secret Aurora taking over mid race trying to steal the race, its just a matter of who’s close enough to beat it.
Not Too Soon tends to slide back from the start, does drawing barrier 7 aid or hinder your plans?
I think gate 7 is good. I don’t need a rails run and don’t mind going wide, the style just dictates too strongly to not hit the lead too early so going wide could aid? Possibly? It worked last time.
So did you choose to draw that wide to give your horse a tougher time earlier?
Yes, I did intentionally wait for a wider draw but he still needs to be restrained early before the turn, but not too much, as don’t want to give away too much ground.
He has failed at the distance previously (2yo Breeders Sprint): do you think he has improved enough make up the difference?
Don’t think so. Stalkers can always be hit and miss, think most competitive horses have improved from 2yo. At the end of the day a little bit of luck is needed, think its harder to win with a stalker as it gets older.
So how would you rate your confidence in claiming the Amethyst Trophy?
I would be more confident if it was not a sprint race, that extra distance would assist mine for sure as his OR would give him that little edge.
The interview had to stop there as the fire alarm rang out and we were hurried off to the assembly point. Thankfully we were able to learn a few of the big stables secrets and ascertain that Patrick believes; Not Too Soon has a good chance to win, but he is very weary of Dixon Racing’s horse Secret Aurora. Is he after a better price at the bookies though?