Will’s Steel the real deal
WILL Clarken knows he'll need all the planets to align but he hasn't given up hope of claiming an upset Goodwood win with his gifted galloper Steel Frost.
Steel Frost is rated a $21 chance in Ladbrokes fixed-odds markets for Saturday's Group 1 $1 million Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville and Clarken is confident the former New South Wales gelding will be at his peak for South Australia's premier sprint race.
The five-year-old, a winner of six of 10 starts since joining Clarken's stable last year, was beaten just over a length when fourth at Group 3 level at Caulfield in March before reasserting his Goodwood claims with a strong win in the City of Adelaide Handicap (1400m) at Morphettville on April 28.
"I think he's a fluker's chance," Clarken said.
"He had a really solid gallop on Friday then did another piece of work on Tuesday morning. He hasn't missed an oat, and he's in great condition.
"There are a few days to go and things can change but where we stand at the moment, he's in as good a condition as I can get him this preparation."
Clarken said some firm racing surfaces over the SA summer had hindered Steel Frost's progress but the horse had given every indication he was ready to deliver a bold performance on Saturday.
"He hit a really hard track in the Christmas Handicap, and I've never had one jar up like it," the trainer said.
"Then the track on Adelaide Cup day was very firm and he jarred up again.
"You never really get that at Morphettville but he copped it twice in a row and it put us on the back foot a bit.
"He improved a bit when he went to Caulfield then he improved a lot when he won last start. I think he's improved again but he definitely does have to.
"We're not kidding ourselves. He needs to go super-dooper and a couple of them need to go below their best."
Clarken expects jockey Todd Pannell to be able to settle Steel Frost into a prominent position from barrier eight with a number of the leading contenders drawn wide.
"From the gate, he's just going to get a beautiful run," he said. "I don't think they'll go at a slashing tempo.
"It might be an advantage to not be as far back as some of them will be. I envisage him being in the first half-dozen.
"If he's going to win, he'll have to get a break on them at the 200m mark and try to hold them off, rather than run over the top of them late."
Steel Frost will be Clarken's third Group 1 runner. Molto Bene ran midfield as favourite in the 2012 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield and Cavaloce finished 14th as an outsider in last year's Robert Sangster Stakes at Morphettville.