By Duane Ranger
There's no such thing as a race-course certainty but last start Jewels 2yo Ruby champion, Paramount King, looks exactly that in the sixth event at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night.
Even his former Cambridge-and-now-Clevedon based co-trainer, John Dickie, thinks he should win, but warns there are bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks.
"This is his first race since early June. We put him out for four months after the Jewels and he's had a long, slow build-up for this. We don't want to knock him around too much because we have some bigger races coming up in the next few months.
"He's the type of horse you really want to look after. What he did as a 2-year-old was a bonus. He should be even better now he's three," Dickie said.
Paramount King was the $10.80 sixth favourite when winning his Jewels Crown at Ashburton on June 3 by a head from Australian, Muscle Hill.
He drew seven in that $100,000 Group One event. On Thursday he will start from 20m behind in the $8,500 Mothers Day Fun Run At Cambridge Raceway Handicap Trot.
Josh Dickie, who co-trains the Love You chestnut gelding, will again do the driving. He thought the track and distance would suit him.
“We thought we would keep him racing left-handed since he’s going down south after this race. He’s a very exciting young horse who will only get better with racing. He has won four of his eight ($64,982) career starts, including two on my old home track (Cambridge)," Dickie Junior said.
After Thursday’s 2700 metre assignment, Paramount King will head to David and Catherine Butt’s Woodend Beach barn, where he will be stabled for his South Island assignments.
Dickie Senior said he would tackle the Group Three $25,000 Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton on February 25; then the $17,500 Lone Star 3yo Sires Stakes at Addington Raceway on March 16; the Group One $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby at Addington on April 6; and then the Group Two $60,000 Lone Star 3yo Sires Stakes Championship, also at Addington on April 20.
Dickie Sr said he would then head home for the Group One $100,000 Northern Derby at Alexandra Park on April 27.
“We opted to steer clear of Auckland this time around because he’s only three and the ratings there would have hurt him. He would have had to race against some nice trotters, and with a big season ahead we didn’t want to crucify him early on.
“The beach training will also help him down there and Bob (Butt) is also good friends with Josh. He will look after him when we are not there,” Dickie Senior said.
He said Paramount King was an especially good stayer, but still didn’t have the same speed as his older half-brother, the late Paramount Geegee, who won 17 of his 30 starts ($533,921), including five Group One races - namely the New Zealand Trotting Derby, the Northern Derby, the Harness Jewels 3yo Ruby, and both the Australian 2&3yo Breeders Crown Finals.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with him. What he did as a 2-year-old was a big bonus because that was his education year. It’s always great to race on my old home track. It is never forgotten and this is the perfect assignment to start his 3-year-old season,” Dickie Senior said.
He said Paramount King had been given a slow build-up since October and he was a nice winner at the Pukekohe Workouts last Saturday, trotting the 2500m stand (right-handed) in 3:19 (mile rate 2:08.0). He and Dickie Jr came home in 61.9 and 28.5. Paramount King was the 20m back-marker and beat One Bid Buys and Magnafique by four-and-a-half lengths and two lengths.
The Dickies will also line-up Sally O'Malley (8) in the fifth event on Thursday.
“She’s half a chance. She only had one start as a 2-year-old last season and has come back as big as a buck. She has done well since the spelling paddock, but will be much better for this week’s run. She will badly need it, but I think she can win one at short notice,” Dickie said.
It is ‘Sports Teams’ Night’ at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday and the ‘Pick6’ will operate from races 3 to 8. It is worth $40,000.