By Michael Manley
Although Symon Wilde’s Grand Annual warrior Gold Medals was retired recently, the Warrnambool trainer finds himself in an enviable position as he attempts to win the marathon race for a third time.
Wilde, who has already had a memorable week with five winners on Tuesday, will saddle up his Brierly Steeplechase winner Vanguard and also American In Paris in the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Wilde, being Warrnambool born and bred, is an unashamed fan of the carnival and the feature jumps races.
“I love the carnival and the jumps racing. For me Gold Medals to win the Grand Annual was all my dreams come true. People say did you want to win the Melbourne Cup. No, I wanted to win the Grand Annual and Brierly,” he said.
He believes he’s got two strong chances with emerging star Vanguard and his project horse American In Paris on Thursday.
Wilde said Vanguard could not have produced a better Grand Annual trial than his fast-finishing effort to win the Brierly Steeplechase.
“He was very strong late. He’s only young and he was bought specifically for the carnival and jumping. He could be anything,” Wilde said.
Wilde identified American In Paris as a prospective Grand Annual Steeplechase a couple of years ago and he thinks he’ll be suited by the race.
American In Paris completed his preparation for the Grand Annual Steeplechase with a third placing behind Vanguard in the 3200 metres Steeplechase at Hamilton on April 3.
“I thought he ran very well at his last start. He’s hardly ever missed a place. I just think he’s ready now to tackle a Grand Annual. He loves a wet track and he’ll love the distance. He could be a good smokey,” Wilde said.
“He’s a very clean jumper. He doesn’t have the brilliance of Gold Medals but he’s got a few attributes which are the same,” he said.
Wilde said he was likely to scratch Brierly Steeplechase runner-up Britannicus as he thought he was too brilliant for a Grand Annual and save him for the Australian Steeplechase.
The other local in the Grand Annual Steeplechase is Simon Ryan’s Police Camp, who finished third in the Brierly Steeplechase, although 20 lengths from the winner.
Ryan is hoping for the predicted heavy rain to eventuate and if that happened, he gives his fencer a chance at big odds.
“He’s a Thackeray winner in terrible conditions, he was placed in the Brierly and he’s a safe jumper, who has never lost his rider,” Ryan said,
“If the track was very heavy I think he’ll be a top four chance. He’ll also run out the distance.”
Ryan said to forget Police Camp’s failure in the 2020 Grand Annual Steeplechase as he was first-up and over-raced.
“He pulled up well. He had a swim in the pool walk and a pick. He was beaten a long way on Tuesday but over one lap and on that ground they were too quick," Ryan said.
"His jockey Darryl Horner said he thought on his effort on Tuesday he had great each-way claims."