By Glenn Davis
An awkward barrier draw has sapped some of trainer Darryl Hansen’s confidence of Divine Service extending his winning sequence at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Divine Service is chasing a hat-trick of wins in the Jim Beam Open Handicap (1200m) but has drawn barrier nine in the field of 10.
“I’m confident he’ll run very well again but I would have been more confident of him winning had he drawn a little better,” Hansen said.
Five-year-old Divine Service has won eight of his 36 starts which has been restricted to mostly around 1200 metres including his past two starts at Caloundra and Eagle Farm.
Hansen rates 1200 metres as the gelding’s pet distance and may aim him for the $150,000 Listed Weetwood Handicap at Toowoomba on April 8.
“He’s going good at the moment and he was well above them when he won at Caloundra two runs back then he was well placed when he won at Eagle Farm last time,” Hansen said.
“This is a little tougher in open company and the barrier is the worst thing for him.
“There’s no reason why he couldn’t win over further. He got beaten a lip in the Rocky Newmarket over 1300 metres last year by Lauterbrunnen.
“I don’t think he’s up to the winter carnival sprints but the Weetwood might be a nice race for him.”
The race marks the return of the Desleigh Forster-trained Too Good To Refuse who is targeting the Sydney autumn.
Forster will instruct jockey Jim Byrne to be more aggressive on Too Good To Refuse who hasn’t raced since finishing fourth at Eagle Farm on New Year’s Eve.
Too Good To Refuse is being aimed at the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes on March 4 and Group 3 Newmarket Handicap at Newcastle on March 17 ahead of his Group 1 mission in the Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 1.
Forster is hopeful Too Good To Refuse can pick up prizemoney to help lift his rating ahead of his Sydney campaign.
“He’s off to Sydney after this race and hopefully he can get some prizemoney,” she said.
“I might have him ridden more aggressively and make him work a bit harder for the first 200 metres.
“He’s developed a bit of a habit of being lazy out of the barriers and switching off.”
Racing Queensland webnews February 16