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Promising filly Never Talk started the season at the provincials but is poised to continue her rapid progression to racing's elite level in the Group 1 $500,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
At least this is the opinion of form guru Gary Crispe who was taken by Never Talk's storming finish to just miss behind Every Rose in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes two weeks ago.
The Kris Lees-trained Never Talk proved that day she as competitive with the best three-year-old fillies in training.
"She was thrown in the deep end but Never Talk was the run of the race and clearly appreciated getting back onto a wet track,'' Crispe said.
"In her first attempt beyond 1100m, she returned a new career peak and gives the impression she will have no concerns with the step up to 1400m.''
Never Talk, a winner of five of her eight starts, has a peak Timeform rating of 103 which is well below the 115 average winning figure for the Surround Stakes in the last five years.
However, Crispe considers the Surround Stakes has attracted a competitive field but maintains "it is far from a vintage renewal" of the race.
Crispe believes Never Talk has the improving ratings profile to put her in the finish on Saturday.
"Never Talk has made big jumps this preparation and while it is never easy to keep raising the bar, she appears well suited,'' Crispe said.
"The Team Snowden-trained Dame Giselle is not at home on a wet track, but is open to improvement second-up and you have to respect her class.
"She loomed up to win the Inglis Sprint when resuming but just failed to finish it off when fourth behind Rocketing By. But Dame Giselle is unbeaten second-up (three wins) and is unbeaten at her sole attempt at the trip.
"She has a peak Timeform rating of 113 and if she is able to run up to that figure, she will be the one to beat.''
Crispe has a big opinion of David Payne's outstanding filly Montefilia, a dual Group 1 winner with a lofty 114 rating.
"Montefilia is reportedly on an Oaks path and this is far from her Grand Final,'' he said. "She will be better over further but has no concerns with the wet-track and should be strong late.''
Crispe is wary of the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained La Mexicana, a winner of five of her seven starts including the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes at Caulfield three weeks ago.
"She has a 106 rating but continues to improve,'' Crispe said.
"She should be able to take up a prominent position from the middle draw, is proven in all track conditions and should be in this for a long way.''
DARK CLOUDS A CONCERN FOR DAME
Peter Snowden is more concerned about rain than rivals for his top filly Dame Giselle in the Group 1 $500,000 Surround Stakes.
"The only thing we are terrified about is the weather,'' he said. "We might be lucky to get away with a soft 5 and if that is the case, she will be fine, but if it is a 7-8 we are in a bit of trouble. She gets through the going but it takes away from her turn of foot. She is not the same horse in the wet.''
The Randwick surface was rated a soft 6 late Thursday ahead of Sydney's first Group 1 meeting of the year. Dame Giselle, winner of five of her 11 starts and more than $1.2 million prizemoney, is at her best on firmer tracks.
But she did win the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes when resuming at Randwick on a soft 7 surface last spring and also scored in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes on a similar-rated track at Rosehill during her juvenile season.
Snowden, who trains in partnership with his son, Paul, said Dame Giselle is at her peak for the Surround Stakes after her fourth to Rocketing By when resuming in the Inglis Sprint three weeks ago.
"Dame Giselle has had a run now, a couple of trials and a gallop between races so she is getting pretty close to the mark now,'' Snowden said.
"But if we can get her back on top of the ground it will certainly make a difference.''
Dame Giselle is early favourite at $4.80 to win a very competitive Surround Stakes. Another father-son training combination, Anthony and Sam Freedman have talented Melbourne filly La Mexicana at $7 with Away Game pressing at $8. Team Snowden has a strong entry at Randwick, including promising two-year-old Captivant who resumes in the Group 2 $200,000 Skyline Stakes (1200m).
Captivant, a winner of the Victory Vein Plate before his fourth in the Golden Gift at his only two starts last spring, has looked very impressive in two recent Randwick barrier trial wins. He is at $3.40 behind only Magic Millions winner Shaquero ($2.60 favouritism) in early betting.
"We like Captivant, he's a talented colt and has trialled really well,'' Snowden said. "If the track is too wet we could wait a week for the Todman Stakes but I would like to get him going this Saturday in the Skyline.''
The Snowden stable also has classy Reelem In Ruby going second-up into the Group 2 $200,000 Guy Walter Proven Thoroughbred Stakes (1400m). Reelem In Ruby resumed off a long spell with a good fourth to Tailleur in the Triscay Stakes at Randwick two weeks ago.
"She had done a power of work on the track and I thought she stuck on well first-up as she pulled a bit in a slowly run race,'' Snowden said. "But there is nothing like race fitness and she will be further improved going into Saturday which is an important race to have her ready for the Coolmore Classic.''
I Am Superman and Brave Song are entered for the Group 3 $160,000 Liverpool City Cup (1300m).
"I think I Am Superman is going great and this is a perfect race for him but we've also got him in at Melbourne, too,'' Snowden said. "If we get a decent track, I Am Superman will stay here. Brave Song is racing well but he needs a good track.''
Online article taken from the racenet.