Jojo strikes Thompson as the Man for Ingham mission

We’re still six months away from the new $2m The Ingham, formerly the Villers Stakes, run over the Randwick mile but it’s a race trainer John Thompson could point in-form gelding Jojo Was A Man toward this summer.

JOJO WAS A MAN.
JOJO WAS A MAN. Picture: Martin King / Sportpix

While the Group 2 feature is an aspiration at this stage, the four-year-old chases his third win from four starts this campaign in the Elite Sand & Soil Handicap (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Thompson said his form can be attributed to maturity and that's evidenced by the fact he's yet to reach his pet trip this preparation.

"He's a miler. He was a little erratic, he'd go a bit hard in his races and worry himself out of it,'' Thompson said.

"Now he's more relaxed and a bit more seasoned. He needed a bit of racing and he's come good.

"At the moment it's about going through our grades but I think he could measure up to a Villiers horse later on."

Jojo Was A Man, $5 with TAB on Thursday, sat wide when he scored over the Randwick 1400m two weeks ago with Reece Jones riding to the pattern of the meeting.

Thompson is relieved that the gelding has drawn a bit kinder this time around and though he's keen to step up in distance, and rises 2.5kg, there's no reason to think he won't be hard to beat again.

"I probably would have preferred a race a little further on Saturday but he's enjoying being kept a little bit fresh,'' he said.

"I would have said he's looking for further last start but he was still brilliant enough to win over 1400m and be strong late. He's won twice over 1400m so it's not a hindrance but he is better over a mile.

"All three runs he's been wide from wide gates so this time he might get a decent run."

The Group 2 $2m The Ingham (1600m) is run on December 17 and carries exemption into the 2023 $3m Doncaster Mile.

The Randwick trainer is confident he has former classy youngster Mamaragan racing in good form and is hoping for a long awaited breakthrough in the Petaluma Handicap (1100m).

A last start third behind Dragonstone in the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes over the same course, after tracking wide, was encouraging and Thompson hopes he's yet another horse than Reece Jones can connect well with.

Mamaragan's only win to date came in the Group 2 Skyline Stakes on debut as a two-year-old before he finished third in Farnan's Golden Slipper in 2020 and while his three runs back have had merit he has struggled to recapture it.

"He's running well this prep and he's got to continue to do that,'' Thompson said.

"The ability is there but he's a little bit of a head case and a tricky ride. I don't know if you get the ride right on him the first go.

"It's Reece's first go on him but he did come and gallop him for me on Tuesday, I think that's key to get him on the horse before riding him in a race."

You won't be seeing handy three-year-old Bartoselli on a heavy track again after his disappointing first-up effort at Canterbury earlier this month.

Thompson said he has to put the failure behind him heading into the Precise Air Handicap (1300m) and given how well he was trialling going into that first-up run he has to be given the benefit of the doubt.

"Hugh (Bowman) said he just didn't handle the really heavy track, it was heavy and shifty, and from the start he didn't travel,'' he said.

"You were never confident watching him in the race.

"We've gone up in distance so he can travel and the firmer surface is key, we won't run him on a heavy track again."


Racing and Sports