Trainer James Peters is banking on Magnum’s consistent form behind the best three-year-olds of his generation to put him in good stead for a winning comeback on Sunday.
The Englishman is saddling the promising son of Per Incanto first-up in the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1200m where he will be up against the likes of Touch Me Not, Solaris Spectrum and Iking, no doubt handy types in this grade but by no means a patch on 3YO kingpin Debt Collector and his bridesmaids Nova Strike or Infantry.
Peters is, however, not underestimating the opposition, more so when his three-time winner is coming back from a three-month spell since his third to Debt Collector in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m), but going with the New Zealand-bred’s trackwork form alone, he seemed quietly confident.
“He’s come back well. Whatever he does on Sunday, he will improve on,” said Peters.
“He had a good blow after his trial last Thursday (third to Huka Falls). He is not quite 100% but we had to start him off somewhere before the quality races come up later in the year.”
It may be early days, but Michael Freedman’s former assistant-trainer has already eyed off a target for the Waterford Stable-owned galloper later in the year. Peters currently sits in 14th place on 18 winners, not a bad score in itself for a first-year trainer, but if the 14 winners he prepared as the caretaker trainer while Freedman had already gone to Australia, were to be “added on”, he would hypothetically be in the Top 10.
“I was thinking of a race like the EW Barker Trophy for him. It’s a handicap race and it’s over 1400m which is probably his best distance,” he said.
But before getting too ahead of himself, he would rather devote his attention to the task at hand and Sunday’s run would provide him with some answers.
“One race at a time. I think Magnum has always shown plenty of potential as a three-year-old, but he was up against some very good sorts in his year,” said Peters.
“Debt Collector was obviously the benchmark, but there were also other very good sorts like Rafaello, etc. He was not far behind and hopefully that strong 3YO formline will carry through.
“Michael Rodd rode him in the trial and said he felt like the good horse he has always been. Corey Brown is back from suspension on Sunday and will ride him. We’ll see how he progresses further down the road. Hopefully, he picks up where he left off.”
If there is one horse Peters is hoping he leaves behind some of the antics he showed at his last outing, it is Wimbledon.
The Snitzel entire hung outwards badly from the 800m at his last race in the Group 3 Garden City Trophy (1200m) last Sunday week. Brown tried everything under the sun – shortened the nearside rein, shifted his body, gave a few cracks – but the wayward animal just kept heading towards the Riding Centre and the grandstand before winding up last.
After such a rudderless display, Wimbledon had to go for a 1000m barrier test which he passed with Shafiq Rizuan up on Tuesday morning.
“I took the blinkers off and put on a pair of winkers and a crossover noseband. He behaved a lot better today, and Shafiq rode him well today,” he said.
“He’s a five-year-old now but he’s still very aggressive. He will race next week.”
After beginning moderately, Wimbledon still gave in to his fiery side as he pulled his way to the front where he sat off eventual winner Splendor’s (Antonio da Silva) girth before staying on for a nice second.