By Isaac Murphy
Last time trainer Ken Staines made the trip from his Waterview Heights kennels on the outskirts of Grafton to Ipswich, he went home with the Ipswich Young Guns title courtesy of Glorious Izmir. She will look to add the Ipswich Futurity to her haul, while litter mate Prize Izmir is after the Ipswich Derby this Saturday night.
Staines said he has fond memories of the trip giving the prolific Northern Rivers winner her first feature win but knew the locals would be out in force to try to stop his duo scoring anymore silverware.
“I think the biggest factor is going to be beating the locals on their home track. Both of mine have had the majority of their wins on the Northern Rivers tracks and I’ve always had the theory the further you have to travel the harder it is to win a race,” Staines said.
“They both have question marks beside them. Glorious with her conditioning and Prize with the grade but in saying that I’m not bringing them up for nothing. At their best I think they can both win their respective races.”
It hasn’t been plain sailing for Glorious Izmir since her Young Guns triumph. A back-paw injury forced a fifty-day layoff. While Staines is confident and she’s sound, he thinks she may be lacking conditioning for her heat.
“The only question is her fitness. Her last run at Albion Park back in early September, she did her metacarpal and I turned her out and brought her back steady,” he said.
“I noticed this race was on and thought at her best it would really suit. I’d probably say she’s one run short, but we’ll see on Saturday night.”
Staines said the bitch usually prefers to be drawn off the track but was not complaining about coming up with the pole. His only vice whether she would run out the trip third up off her spell.
“It’s not the start I’m worried about. She’s always been a natural beginner, but it’s a hard 520 at Ipswich and she just might feel the pinch over that last fifty metres,” he said.
“I don’t know a great deal about the rest of the field with the exception of Sequana who looks like she’s a cut above, but we’ve got good memories at this track and even if we can’t win I’d take a spot in the final any day.”
“If she can find her way through, I’ve got no doubt she’ll strip fitter and give them a real run for their money if she can make the final. Which should leave her in great condition for a Lismore Cup tilt.”
Staines could not fault Prize Izmir’s form in the lead up to the Derby, with three wins from his last four starts leaving his confidence sky high, but much like his sister would have to overcome another of Selena Zammit’s young stars in Stinger Noir drawn outside him in the eight.
“The draw won’t worry him. He’s never quite had his sister’s ability but he can go with them early and his conditioning couldn’t be any better,” Staines said.
“He’s been poking along nicely down at Lismore and Casino. It’s just going to be if he can handle the rise in class is all, but his recent runs have been enormous.”
In line with his sister, I’d love to see him get through to the final and we’ll test him down at the Lismore Cup as well.”
Glorious Izmir has the remarkable strike rate of twenty wins from thirty-five starts for Staines and the trainer was rapt to have his star back in work, though a long-term arrangement may see her closer to the end of her racing career than the start.
“It’s a real joy to have her back. She’s been enormous to me and I’m going to make sure I relish every race she gets because my owners Gregg and George Mills usually like to retire their good bitches around this age and reproduce a new crop,” he said.
“I trained Raven Izmir for them when she won the Lismore Cup last year and they retired her immediately after, but they’ve showed a lot of faith in me and I should have a couple of Raven Izmir/Fabregas pups in the kennel soon.”
“They really look after their bitches and although they retire them when they’ve still got plenty of racing, it’s a system that works and I’m very happy to be a part of.”