Fontein Ruby rolls in cash thanks to Robert Smerdon’s smarts

Thursday, July 5, 2018

It really does pay to read the small print – it can win you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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Caulfield trainer Robert Smerdon has set his grand filly Fontein Ruby on a group 1 course this autumn with the Australasian Oaks in Adelaide next month her main target.

Smerdon was planning to run the daughter of Turffontein this weekend, but his original idea was to take her over the border to South Australia to run in the 1800-metre Schweppervescence, a race worth $115,000, at Morphettville, where the Oaks will be staged in May.

But last weekend the trainer was glancing through the racing calendar and noticed that his filly was eligible  for the 1600m Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria Vobis Gold Reef, an event worth $250,000 with a restricted entry criteria.

So Smerdon quickly revised his plans and shelved any notion of travelling to Adelaide.

“It’s all come together for this horse. She’s earned over a million dollars and a lot of that would be Vobis bonus money. It’s a huge incentive to run,” he said afterwards.

“We were going to go to Adelaide for the group 3, but it wasn’t until I looked at the program that I thought she’s eligible, I’d  better keep her here. It’s a big carrot.”

In trademark fashion, Fontein Ruby rolled along out in front under Nick Hall and the $2.10 favourite was never headed to win by 1¾ lengths from David Hayes’ Jurasound ($3.60), with War Point three-quarters of  length away third at $21.

“She’s a freewheeler. That’s the only reason we came to ride her this way. She was being a real trollope when we rode her conventionally. [Regular rider] Mark Zahra said one day, let’s stop fighting her and let her go along. She always hits a flat spot, but then rallies again.

“She’s got white-line fever, it’s a great thing for a competitor, and she’s got it. “

While Fontein Ruby left punters with a warm, fuzzy glow, those who had taken a short price about another hotpot earlier in the day, the dual-group 1 winner Trust In A Gust from the Darren Weir stable, were left gutted after the $1.95 shot was just tagged on the line by $51 chance Red Bomber in the $150,000 Vobis Gold Sprint (1200m).

Weir’s favourite had a distinct class edge on his 10 rivals, so his short price was no surprise given that because of the race conditions, he was only being asked to give all but one of his rivals no more than two kilos.

Craig Williams had him prominent throughout but he was just nailed in the shadows of the post by the Mick Price-trained winner. Price’s other runner, the $21 shot Worth A Ransom, was three-quarters of a length behind in third place.

“It was a bit of a surprise, I thought he wanted 1400 metres, it was a very good ride by Chad … you wouldn’t think an 88-rater would beat a dual group 1 winner would you,” Price said. “They [the winner and the third] have got no great deeds to be doing. We will just play around with them.”

Smerdon and Dwayne Dunn, who had won earlier on on Sunday Escape, completed a double in the listed TROA Bel Esprit Stakes with the classy mare Politeness.

The daughter of Street Sense has had numerous niggles while in training and a planned trip to Sydney for the autumn riches of The Championships had to be abandoned after she injured a foot in the stables. But resuming over an unsuitably short 1100m she was produced late by Dunn to score from the well-backed Thermal Current ($6) despite having drifted in the market from $8.50 to $13.

She will now be aimed at the group 1 Sangster Stakes at Morphettville during the South Australian carnival.

“We always thought she would run well, but 1100 … can she beat them, I was unsure,” Smerdon said.

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