Trainer David Payne is hoping the addition of headgear can help Tarka turn the tables on his last-start conqueror in Saturday's Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick. Tarka (All Too Hard-Gayika, by Galileo) will be out to reverse his 2.5 length defeat at the hands of the promising Thinkin' Big in the Gr3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill two weeks ago, and Payne is banking on blinkers to get the job done. "A set of blinkers will keep him more focused," Payne told racingnsw.com.au. "He is quite a laid back fellow. He was off the bit the whole way the other day and James [McDonald] said he was casual about everything. I think we were too far back the other day and he hit a flat spot but, in saying that, Thinkin' Big is a good horse and is going to be hard to beat." Payne added: "I think there is more depth to this field than what he's [Thinkin' Big] been racing. There are a couple of unknowns there." Tarka is rated an $8 chance with TAB for the Spring Champion, while Thinkin' Big is the clear market elect at $3.50.
Forty horses remain in contention for the Cox Plate following first acceptances on Tuesday. Among the contenders hoping to line up against Champion mare Winx in her bid for an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate triumph are five internationals, namely Cliffs Of Moher & Rostropovich from the Aidan O'Brien yard, and Benbatl, Emotionless & Blair House from Godolphin. Budding superstar colt and Gr1 Golden Rose winner The Autumn Sun as well as fellow 3YO and Gloaming Stakes winner Thinkin' Big, are also among the horses still in the running. The $5 million Gr1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) will be run at Moonee Valley on 27 October. Click here to view first acceptances.
Gai Waterhouse has paid a big compliment to last Saturday's impressive Gr3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) winner Thinkin' Big saying he reminds her of former top-class 3YO Nothin' Leica Dane. Nothin' Leica Dane, who was a member of the vintage 3YO crop of 1995 that also included champions Octagonal and Saintly, and the brilliantly enigmatic Filante, won 6 of his 28 starts, including the Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes and Gr1 Victoria Derby. He also finished second to Doriemus in the 1995 Melbourne Cup, the last southern hemisphere-bred 3YO to be placed in the race. Waterhouse has similar classic ambitions for Thinkin' Big and hopes to emulate Nothin' Leica Dane by running the former in the $2 million Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on 3 November. "I can't tell you how much he reminds me of Nothin' Leica Dane," Waterhouse told racing.com. "We planned the derby right from day one. I trained his full brother Stampede and he's a good horse and has already got to black type in his pedigree now but this horse is a serious contender." Waterhouse added: "He's got a great cruising speed and this amazing ability to quicken."
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, Coolmore’s deceased dual Derby-winning shuttler & 6-time Gr1 victor High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells-Kasora, by Dashaan) added a Group race success when 3YO Australian-bred colt Thinkin’ Big (High Chaparral-Nothin’ Leica Cat, by Tale of The Cat) looked a horse destined for a bigger things when bounding clear for a strong front-running win in the $200,000 Gr3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) for 3YOs, defeating Tarka & Irukandji. A homebred for Dodmark Thoroughbreds, Thinkin' Big is a sibling to Gr3 winner Stampede and improved his record to 3 wins and 1 placing from 4 starts for $228,345 in earnings. Co-trainer Adrian Bott said Thinkin’ Big will be aimed at the Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney and the Gr1 Victoria Derby in Melbourne. “He's a very professional colt and a really exciting horse for us going forward,” Bott said. “He'll back up in the Spring Champion Stakes in a fortnight, then it's on to Melbourne for the Derby.”