Joe Pride concedes Private Eye’s runner-up finish in the Stradbroke Handicap was “the one that got away”, but saw enough talent to believe he will be competitive when the big spring features arrive.
He has also been impressed with the fight of his four-year-old after he went winless in an autumn campaign which saw him start in the Canterbury Stakes, George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Mile – all at Group 1 level.
Private Eye finished a disappointing 19th from 20 runners in the Doncaster Mile on April 2, clearly not embracing the Heavy 9 conditions in Sydney that preparation.
But after coming eighth in the Kingsford Smith Cup at Eagle Farm on May 28, Private Eye – with $17 winning odds – challenged Stradbroke Handicap winner Alligator Blood and finished a length behind him on June 11.
Pride was pleased with the improvement in his versatile gelding, who is now enjoying a spell, and thinks he has the ability to land a second career Group 1 victory when he returns over the spring.
“(He ran) super. He went really good. No luck. That can happen in the big handicap races, or any race,” he told HorseBetting.com.au.
“It feels like the one that got away, but it’s just nice to have him back on the track after what was a disappointing autumn on those heavy tracks.
“We’re looking at the spring now – we’ve got a few options which we’ll discuss with the owners.
“We won’t be up early in the spring because we’ve been racing in June. But we’ll certainly try and be a force late this spring.
“I’m really happy with him.”
Meanwhile, Pride already has one Everest slot locked away with stable gun Eduardo to start in the $15 million classic over 1200m at Randwick on October 15.
He has also recently indicated that Private Eye – last year’s Epsom Handicap winner – would make a worthy inclusion alongside his two-time Group 1-winning stablemate because he enjoys high-pressure races.
Indeed, between his star trio of Private Eye, Eduardo and Stockman, Pride is confident big things can happen for his stable this spring.
“Eduardo and Stockman have arrived back at the stables. They’re two of the big guns,” he said.
“Two-year-old Shalatin is already back in. Between those horses we’re hoping for a little bit of strike power.”