LAST year, trainer Ben Smith and In Her Time were both still learning as they chased an interstate Group 1 win.
Now with sights firmly fixed on turf racing’s ultimate prize, the former Scone lad and his stable star have found the winning formula as they prepare for redemption in Brisbane.
In Her Time, with a slot in October’s $13 million The Everest (1200m) locked in, will again take on Redzel and many other top sprinters in the $700,000 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) on Saturday.
The mare was fifth in last year’s race, won by Redzel, before luckless placings from wide gates in the group 1 Stradbroke and Tatt’s Tiara.
Now based in Newcastle, Smith admitted he misjudged In Her Time’s condition in preparation for her trip to Brisbane last year.
He said the mare was also lightly raced and “still learning her race smarts”.
But with a Group 1 win in The Galaxy and last year’s Premiere Stakes and Everest consolation race victories behind them, the combination appear primed for their return to Brisbane.
“Twelve months ago coming up here was her first trip, so we weren’t quite sure,” Smith said.
“She’s had a trip to Melbourne now as well. She’s settled back in here well, in the same place as last year at Eagle Farm, so it’s not foreign to her.
“Over the past year she’s really come on and is more developed as a racehorse. She’s tougher and all round a much better horse.”
And unlike last year, In Her Time has a better draw, after gaining seven of 13.
“I’m really happy with her and we’ve got a good barrier,” he said. “There’s speed on the inside but there’s heaps on the outside, so hopefully they can cart us across and we can sneak in just behind the speed there and stalk them.”
Adding to Smith’s confidence is the return of jockey Corey Brown, who missed In Her Time’s win in the Galaxy through suspension and her luckless third in the TJ Smith Stakes because of injury.
Damian Lane took In Her Time to the back of the field in the TJ Smith and they were hopelessly held up in traffic.
“He suits her, he knows her and knows what he’s got underneath him and he trusts her,” Smith said of Brown.
“He just doesn’t panic on her. He knows everything about her and it just makes it easier for everyone.
“She’s never been back like that in her life. She’s an on-pace horse and she can run sectionals. She can sit on a slow pace or a hot pace and still quicken. She’ll just jump and put herself there and they are going to go along quickly, so hopefully she’s not too far away.”
In Her Time was a $3.60 second favourite behind Redzel ($2.25) with TAB Fixed Odds. While confident, Smith had more than just a group 1 win on his mind this time around in Brisbane.
“With luck in running, I’m sure she’ll look the winner at some stage,” he said. “As long as she runs well, that’s the main thing. This is sort of the start of her campaign towards the Everest, so it’s not her grand final yet, but we’ll try and pick up as many good ones as we can.”
Newcastle trained Le Romain (Kris Lees) and The Mission (Paul Perry) are also in the Doomben 10,000.
After Saturday, Smith was eyeing the Stradbroke Handicap then a spell before a first-up run in the Premiere Stakes into the Everest for In Her Time.
“It works really well for her,” he said.
“Even though we got a third, it wasn’t the best of rides and Damian admitted that he just got it wrong.
“But in the TJ, she was pretty primed and ready to go and it was her second-up run. She was good first-up in the Galaxy and it was the same in the spring. She was good in the Premiere first-up and great in the Everest consolation second-up.
“So that’s a similar approach we’ll just keep taking.”
AAP reports: Top sprinter Redzel can etch his name in the record books in the Doomben 10,000 but that is secondary to his trainers, the Snowden partnership.
Peter Snowden can move into outright second place for all-time winning Doomben 10,000 trainers if favourite Redzel can in his third Group One race on Saturday.
Snowden has already won the race three times, twice as Darley's head trainer with Beaded (2011) and Epaulette (2013) and then in partnership with son Paul last year with Redzel.
Bart Cummings and Harry Plant have also trained three Doomben 10,000 winners.
Tommy Smith is the record holder having won the race six times.
Redzel will become Australia's greatest earning sprinter moving to $9,118,750 if he takes the $427,000 first prize.
He will overtake Chautauqua who has $8,821,935.
Redzel can become the ninth favourite to win since the race went metric in 1997 and the first favourite since Sea Siren in 2012.
Now regarded as Australia's best sprinter Redzel can also become the fifth horse to win back-to-back 10,000s.
However the Snowdens are the least worried about records as they feel Redzel is ready to add another Group One win before his bid to defend his title in the $13 million Everest in October.
Redzel has drawn barrier six which looks ideal.
"The barriers didn't really worry us as he is a pace horse and should be able to get into a good position pretty much wherever he draws," Paul Snowden said.
"He is a seasoned traveller these days and he is better than when he won the race last year."
"Redzel has been racing against the best in his lead-up races."
Jim Byrne rode Redzel in last year's 10000 win but Kerrin McEvoy takes over on Saturday.
McEvoy has won the Darley Classic and the Everest on Redzel.