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Flashy grey Much Much Better doesn’t know it but if he’s able to win the 2024 TAB Karaka Million Handicap (1300m) at Newcastle on Saturday it will cause trainer Sara Ryan to wonder whether she should have rolled the dice in The Hunter.
When scratchings brought him into The Hunter field she thought long and hard about which was the better option.
But she's pleased to have had a back up plan, and it's a race he won in 2021 under Gary Moore's care beating Gravina by over three lengths.
"I have been agonising over whether to go in The Hunter or not,'' Ryan said.
"I would rather be kicking myself if he wins the 94 that I should have gone in the Hunter but if he doesn't perform in the 94 he'd be no hope in the Hunter.
"My goal was the Hunter for him but it's how the cookie crumbles sometimes so we'll attack Saturday and go from there."
Key to her decision to take the 'easier' option is that it presents a greater opportunity for Much Much Better, $5 with TAB on Thursday, to get into his comfort zone.
Anna Roper, who won on the six-year-old at Randwick, takes 3kg off the grey's back and with 57.5kg and the lead up for grabs it's a kinder scenario.
"I've played the Hunter out time and time again and he's just going to have to do a lot of work,'' she said.
"Coal Crusher will lead out and out, and it's just a little uglier in the Hunter.
"I'm very happy with him, if he drew a barrier in the Hunter I wouldn't be questioning it. He's racing so well I'd rather keep him confident and happy.
"He's such a quirky horse, once he's happy and he's fit all you have to do is stay attached to him. I couldn't be happier with the horse, he galloped enormously on Tuesday and licked the feed bin."
Parry Sound's run of outs is closing on 700 days but Ryan said the NZB The Beauford (2300m) is one of the most suitable races he's been in for some time.
The eight-year-old found his way into the placings for the first time in 11 starts when runner-up in Listed company at Eagle Farm just over a month ago.
"I'm hoping he goes one better than he did in Brisbane but he's just as ready as he was for that race,'' she said.
"He's a hard horse to place, I love him but he is limited. When he's up and racing in spring carnival all the good distances horses are up and he's not quite to that class.
Ryan is setting Parry Sound for another shot at the Magic Millions Stayers race in January having finished second in 2021, fourth in 2022 and eighth a year ago.
Meanwhile, Big Dance winner Attractable has come through his win in the $3 million country cups showcase in fine style and will be seen next in the Group 2 $2m The Ingham (1600m) at Randwick on December 9.
"He's been at my place for a couple of days and he headed back to the barn today and we start our prep for the Ingham,'' Ryan said.