Lyle Chandler’s dashing mare set for Randwick Highway

Mitchell Bell will again ride the Lyle Chandler-trained Rapbidash in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick. Image – Bradley Photos.

Lyle Chandler will unleash talented mare Rapbidash in Saturday’s 1200m Class Three Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick, and he’s expecting the four-year-old to continue her rise through the grades.

The Supido mare has started four times for three wins, cruising to a good victory on debut at Muswellbrook in May before an equally impressive Class One win at Taree in June.

After a stint in the paddock, Rapbidash made it three from three when winning a 1200m Benchmark 64 Handicap first-up at Newcastle in November. 

The Scone galloper was then tested in Highway company, taking on a 1400m Class Three Handicap in early December, but after a luckless run, stormed into sixth and was beaten just two lengths by the Matthew Dunn-trained Golden Decade. 

Chandler agreed that his mare was a bit stiff not to boast an unbeaten record. 

“I must say, I don’t like to spin a fisherman’s yarn, and trainers have a lot of hard luck stories, but she should be four from four,” Chandler told NSW Country and Picnic Racing

“Jason (Collett) got off her after that run and said he was so sorry and that he had so much horse and that he couldn’t get the run.”

After that run, Rapbidash spent two weeks in the paddock, with Chandler mindful of a long preparation and the upcoming Country Championships

As it stands, connections head to Sydney on Saturday, aware that whatever their mare does with Mitchell Bell in the saddle, she will be better for it when contesting the $150,000 Hunter North-West Country Championships qualifier at Tamworth on Sunday, March 10.

“One thing I’m slightly concerned about is her fitness heading into Saturday,” Chandler said. 

“She only went to the paddock for two weeks, and I haven’t trialled her. 

“I’ve taken a slightly conservative approach with how much we have screwed down knowing that she might be in contention for the Country Championships.

“It is quite a long series from getting her Benchmark high enough to qualify, and then over a month to the final at Randwick.

“If it all goes to plan, she will be in for a long preparation, but it means we haven’t gone as hard with her.”

Chandler isn’t one to push his gallopers either, with the astute horseman, best known for his association with Banju, taking his time with Rapbidash. 

“I’ll be quite honest, I have a conservative training approach; I’m not trying to break any track records, and I pride myself on my horses having longevity and not so much pressure, and she has done everything easy,” Chandler said. 

“She had gradual conditioning getting ready for trials and the races, and I was really happy with her first trial, but it was her second trial at Gunnedah when I knew she had a bit of ability. 

“It was slowly run, and she still picked them up quite easily.”

In terms of whether she can compete in the upcoming Country Championships or emulate the feats of Banju, Chandler wasn’t willing to get too carried away just yet. 

“She has a long way to go yet; she’s only won at the country and provincials,” Chandler said.

“She is a nice horse with a great bunch of owners, and fingers crossed we get a decent career with her.

“Right now, she’s still not guaranteed a run in the Tamworth heat, and her benchmark is 69, but if she did win on Saturday, she would then be rated high enough not to have to run again.

“It is a competitive field, and I’ve got her on the fresh side, but if she misses out or runs a nice race, there is a Highway over 1400m at Rosehill in two weeks, and she will probably head to that.”

While Chandler will search for his sixth metropolitan win on Saturday, he is off to Walcha on Friday. 

Representing the stable will be Sonic Tycoon (Mikayla Weir, 55kg) in the $45,000 Walcha Cup (1440m), Bit Of A Step (Aaron Bullock, 59kg) in the $35,000 Country Boosted Maiden Plate (1440m), and Tacho (Mikayla Weir, 55kg) in the $30,000 Class One Handicap (1100m).