Locked down but not out as Canberra trainer plans Albury mission

Although stuck in Canberra due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Todd Smart will send two runners to Albury on Tuesday.

Todd Smart and his Canberra-based team are currently locked down in the nation’s capital until at least September 2, but that isn’t stopping the in-form trainer from trying his luck in NSW. 

Under the current guidelines, Smart, or many of his team, cannot leave Canberra without self-isolating for 14 days, and instead must have his horses shipped to meetings and handled by NSW strappers, before having them floated back home.

“It’s tough – we are definitely in lockdown for another two weeks, but we are doing what we can,” Smart said. 

“At the moment, Canberra jockeys and trainers have to stay in Canberra, we can move horses like livestock, but we have to use NSW strappers and jockeys.”

Smart was forced to scratch his runners from Parkes on Saturday and Moruya on Sunday, with the job of finding available strappers not as easy as it sounds, but he will send two runners to Albury on Tuesday. 

“Yesterday at Moruya wasn’t doable and neither was Parkes and that’s why I scratched but Albury is a little bit easier – I know some people there and I was able to get some help,” Smart said. 

Mathew Cahill will ride for Smart, and the pair boast two good chances, highlighted by $1.55 favourite Kelvedon Road in the 1175m Maiden Plate and the returning Tobermory in the 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap. 

“I have the two in; Kelvedon Road, he is doing everything right and he should go close and Tobermory has had a year and a half off and he trialled well the other day and I expect him to get back and fly home,” Smart said. 

Kelvedon Road has shown a lot of promise this preparation. First-up, he was beaten less than a length when running second at Albury over the 1175m on July 13 before flying home to finish second at Forbes over 1100m on August 1.

“At home, he shows us that he is a very nice horse that is capable of winning a (TAB) Highway or something more, but he does a lot of things wrong, that’s his downfall,” Smart said. 

“He is getting better every week and if he puts it together tomorrow, he should win well.

“We have the jockey to get the job done, the horse just has to do his part.”

Smart said the short quote was probably fair based on his recent runs, but he was wary of tipping him to punters because of the three-year-old’s lack of maturity.  

“He should be $1.50 in that race, but I wouldn’t back him because he does so much wrong,” Smart said.

If the Star Witness gelding does land his first win at Albury, he could be destined for the paddock with Smart believing Kelvedon Road will return bigger and better later this year. 

“I would have to talk to the owners, but if he did win, we would think about putting him out,” Smart said. 

“He is that immature, but he will be good come Autumn. The owners will have some fun with him – He is potentially the best horse in my stable.”

Smart won’t be the only Canberra trainer sending horses to the border, with Albury hosting a seven-race-program that is peppered with runners from the nation’s capital.

Racing jumps at 12.55pm but there will be no crowd, with essential personnel the only people allowed on course.