By Darryn Nufer
SHORTLY after 4.08pm today we might hear Rockhampton race caller Russell Leonard roll out one of his popular catch cries “He’s home!”
The broadcaster they call “Brolga” might not necessarily just be referring to a colt or gelding winning the 2019 Capricornia Yearling Sale 2YO Classic (1200m).
Hezhome, the horse that is, will start one of the favourites in Rockhampton’s richest race.
Prepared by Craig Smith (pictured) at Roma, the bay gelding is by boom sire Better Than Ready and he could be ready to break a 12-year drought in this race for the trainer.
Drought is probably an unfair term as 2YO Classics don’t come easy and Smith knows just how hard it is to win one.
He won the 2007 version with Degenda, a youngster who came off a Brisbane metropolitan victory to win the Rocky feature.
While Hezhome doesn’t have form lines as strong as that, he has put together back-to-back successes at Callaghan Park en route to the Classic.
That looks good on paper but races aren’t run and won on paper and Hezhome gave Smith a small scare in the lead-up this week.
“He had a little setback on Monday morning when he kicked a leg on a rail which just caused us a bit of grief,” Smith said.
“But a bit of ice and that, and look, he’s sound in wind and limb.
“He worked very good last Friday and we’re happy with where he is at.”
On his two recent victories it looks as though Hezhome will appreciate the 1200m journey of the Classic which tends to find many of the two-year-olds out.
“I’ve been itching to get him out to a trip like this – he won’t have any issues with that at all,” Smith said.
“I think the Better Than Ready speed is just coming out in him and he’ll be strong at the end of the race for sure.”
Win, lose or draw today, Smith believes the best is yet to come with his galloper.
“I think his best is ahead of him. Whatever we get out of him in the Classic is a bonus.
“He’s naturally gifted but he’s still not doing everything right.
“But he’s improved from each run and we’d be expecting that again (today).
“He does everything you ask of him and he’s a very laid-back customer.
“He’s probably drawn a tad awkwardly (barrier 10) but a lot of the main chances are drawn out there with him, so he’ll just need a bit of luck in running and trying to line the form of the other Brisbane horses up with him is very to hard to do.”
Another visitor and the likely 2YO Classic favourite, Natalie McCall’s Sunshine Coast galloper The Sinner, who is also by “that sire” Better Than Ready, won his only race start impressively at his home track at the end of last month.
McCall said yesterday she was happy with her contender but indicated it was hard to be too confident.
“He had a nice gallop last Saturday,” she said.
“A softer draw (13) would have helped but there is nothing we can do about that.
“Ronnie (Stewart) knows him and will give him a good ride.
“He relished the wet track when he won so the hard track will be a question mark.”
Gates at Callaghan Park open at 10.30am today and the first of seven races is set to jump at 12.51pm.
Tomorrow’s Capricornia Yearling Sale at Rockhampton Showgrounds starts at 11am.
Catalogues will also be available for collection from the Rockhampton Jockey Club office at Callaghan Park Racecourse.
Or you can contact the RJC office on (07) 4937 4000 to request a sale catalogue.