Todd Smart and Billy Owen on Canberra Guineas course with Kelvedon Road

Billy Owen guided the Todd Smart-trained Kelvedon Road to victory in Friday’s Canberra Guineas Preview. Photo: Bradley Photos.

The rain was pelting down on a rain-sodden Canberra racecourse on Friday, but it didn’t stop Gundagai products Todd Smart and Billy Owen from combining for victory in the Canberra Guineas Prelude. 

Owen sat last on the three-year-old that started favourite in the 1400m feature, and he rode a patient race before coming four and five wide on the home turn.

The pair were too good for their rivals, pulling away to win comfortably from the Danny Williams-trained Jalmari and the Matthew Dale-trained Allgemeine.

Smart was over the moon when chatting with NSW Country and Picnic Racing, and he confirmed Kelvedon Road would now head towards the $130,000 Canberra Guineas on March 14.

“It was a very good win and now we will go to the Canberra Guineas,” Smart said. 

“He is just a horse that keeps improving every run and it was great to see him win like that today.”

Kelvedon Road is owned predominantly in Smart and Owen’s hometown, and the Canberra based trainer said it made the whole experience more satisfying.

“We have a really good group of owners in this horse,” Smart said. 

“They are mostly Gundagai people and close friends, and it is great to be racing a horse on the rise and he could be pretty handy this one.”

Smart and connections entered the $40,000 event confident they had the horse to beat.

“I was very confident. He has had a few little issues on the way, and he has had issues with his blood that has taken us about three weeks to get right,” Smart said. 

“I thought the only thing that could get us beat was the bias track, but he still got back, ran on and he was too good for them.”

Smart was originally considering a crack at next Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Randwick Guineas, and while he believes his Star Witness gelding will eventually reach Group 1 class racing, he wasn’t sure if now was the right time to test him.

“It was definitely a race we were considering for him, but I think he is a little bit green for those high-pressure races,” Smart said.

“I think we will give him a run in the Canberra Guineas, then there is a Group 3 race after that and if he keeps improving, he might spend the winter racing in some good races in Queensland.”

From seven career starts, Kelvedon Road is a three-time winner, while also running two second placings, and Smart said he would only get better with time.

“I said last time he was in work that he was 6 to 12 months away,” Smart said. 

“He is a big lanky horse, and he still stargazed a little bit there at the end today, but he is still learning the caper and he will only get better.”

Smart praised the work of jockey and good friend Billy Owen, with the town of Gundagai no doubt rocking on Friday night after the big win.

“He did the job,” Smart said.

“He knows the horse; he rides the horse every day and we have a good rapport with Billy. “We both know what we like and how everything works, and it is exciting we have a nice horse to race together.”

In a massive meeting for Thoroughbred Park, the Theresa Bateup-trained Monegal was ridden a treat by Brock Ryan in the $150,000 Canberra Mile, taking out the 1600m event from the Matthew Dale-trained Five Kingdom in second and the Ron Weston and John Nisbet-prepared Mad As Zariz in third.

The Annabel Neasham-trained Sweet Ride was ultra-impressive, with Jean Van Overmeire guiding the two-year-old to the line under a hard hold in the 1000m Blake Opal Stakes Preview, beating home the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Winnertakesitall in second and the Norm Gardner-trained Lethal Lady in third. 

Calescent was also a feature race winner for Matthew Dale, cruising to the line when under the guidance of Julia Presits to win comfortably in the 1200m National Sprint Preview from the Gratz Vella-trained Major Time and the Jamie Tewart-trained Mr Magical. 

Unfortunately, the last race didn’t go ahead with the wet weather eventually catching up with Canberra, and for full Canberra results, readers can click here