Premier Queensland trainer Tony Gollan could start up to four horses at Rosehill to test whether they have what it takes to join his new Sydney stable.
After winning his third consecutive Brisbane trainers’ title last season, Gollan confirmed plans to take out 20 boxes at the western Sydney track.
Eight horses are already stabled in his new base and as the off-season kicks in, Gollan will bring more across the border to see if they can handle the tougher grade.
At least two horses he trains are set to race at Rosehill on Saturday, headlined by exciting three-year-old sprinter Il Riccio.
Il Riccio destroyed his opposition in an Ipswich maiden on debut, with the 10-length romp prompting Gollan to test him in a three-year-old benchmark handicap over 1200m in Sydney.
“He’s a horse I’ve got a lot of time for,” Gollan said.
“He wouldn’t be on the truck going from Ipswich to Sydney if I didn’t think he would run very well.”
Home-bred Il Riccio does not figure in calculations for January’s Magic Millions raceday, but Gollan is keen to see him rise through the grades.
“He’s travelled down really well to Sydney and hopefully he can accommodate himself well in what is the toughest three-year-old racing in the country,” Gollan said.
Stablemate Bentles has had two unsuccessful midweek runs in Sydney since September and will step up to 1800m for the first time in the benchmark 93 with 54kg on his back.
Impressive last-start Doomben winner Most Important is nominated for Eagle Farm and Rosehill with Gollan to make a decision later in the week where he will head.
He said Pienka, who is nominated for the 1100m benchmark handicap at Rosehill, could be saved for the Canterbury Saturday meeting a week later.
All the stable’s horses will be ridden by experienced Queensland jockey Jim Byrne, who was swamped by comeback king Jeff Lloyd in last season’s Brisbane premiership.
“With so many riders being away in Melbourne on Derby Day, Jimmy was pretty keen to come down and ride – particularly Il Riccio,” Gollan said.
He said establishing relationships with Sydney jockeys was one focus of the expansion which remains a work in progress.
“It’s certainly going to be a lot of hit and miss and feeling our way this first season,” Gollan said.