Billy Owen hopes home track advantage helps in Canberra Guineas

Billy Owen and the Todd Smart-trained Kelvedon Road, pictured here after their recent win at Canberra, will take on Monday’s $130,000 Canberra Guineas. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Canberra hoop Billy Owen will team up local trainer Todd Smart on Monday when riding Kelvedon Road in the $130,000 Canberra Guineas. 

The Star Witness gelding won his way into the race when taking out the $40,000 Canberra Guineas Prelude late last month at Thoroughbred Park, and Owen was confident leading into Monday’s rich feature.

“He is happy and healthy, and I galloped him on the (Canberra) course proper this morning (Wednesday), and we are going into the race quietly confident,” Owen said. 

The three-year-old, which debuted as a two-year-old early last year, has won three times this season, registering wins at Albury, Nowra and Canberra. 

Kelvedon Road’s two most recent wins, which followed a 21-week spell, suggest the Canberra galloper has improved and Owen said connections were yet to see the best of their star gelding. 

“He could only have done what he has done in those last two starts and he could only beat what’s in the race,” Owen said. 

“These two starts this prep; he has won those races like he isn’t even trying, and we haven’t got to the bottom of him yet.

“I’m excited to see where he gets to on Monday. He is going to have to attempt to run past them again, and they are going to be a lot higher class of horse, and it will be interesting to see where we are with him and just how good he is.” 

Owen works Kelvedon Road of a morning, and he said the youngster has continued to mature and improve.

“It’s funny – he sort of doesn’t give you that feel that he is that fast, and he actually surprised me how well he won last start, but he’s got that confidence now,” Owen said. 

“From six or so weeks ago, when I first sat on him, compared to now; every day he is a bit more of a racehorse and he just keeps getting better.

“He still has a bit to go, but he is turning into a nice racehorse and most importantly, he is happy and relaxed around the stable and that makes a massive difference.”

Owen said this race would be a hard one to win when coming up against proven city gallopers, but he hoped home ground advantage meant something.

“There is obviously five or six Sydney Horses that have already proven themselves in the city but the way our horse is going; he will be hard to beat,” Owen said.

“Being at home helps. It’s similar to playing at your home ground when you are playing footy; you know your surrounds and environment and even me as a jockey, I know Canberra well and it is something in our favour for sure.”

Monday is Canberra Cup Day and Owen has a good book of rides and jumps aboard the Nick Olive-trained Temoin Chaud in the 1600m Benchmark 75 Handicap. 

“Temoin Chaud will be hard to beat. I galloped her this morning (Wednesday) and she worked sensational,” Owen said. 

Owen was looking forward to a big two-day Canberra Cup Carnival, which kicks off on Sunday with the running of the $200,000 Black Opal Stakes and $130,000 National Sprint, before the $200,000 Canberra Cup and $130,000 Canberra Guineas meeting on Monday. 

“It’s good to be a part of,” Owen said. 

“Even though I’m not going to be in those other three main races, it’s just good to be around and I’ve been in the crowd on Black Opal Day when I haven’t been riding and it has a great atmosphere.”