IF strike rates hold the key to success in today’s St Kilda Hotel/Barbarians Rugby Club Benchmark 55 Handicap (1300m) at Armidale, then the Sheridan Jones-trained Clear Knight could be home and hosed.
From four starts on the Armidale circuit, the seven-year-old has won three and placed once, and from three starts over the 1300m trip, he’s won two – both of those being at Armidale.
And all his five wins to date have been under the guidance of regular jockey Darren Jones, whose wife Sheridan, father-in-law Jim Lutherborrow, and brothers Ron and Geoff Jones bred and race the gelding.
“Hopefully he can keep up the good record at Armidale, but it’s not going to be easy,” Darren Jones said.
“You’ve got the likes of Rocky Dancer (trained by Sonny Fields at Moonbi) who has won four of his last five, and Ernie Berger’s Jewel Passport who has won one over the distance and four from seven on the track.”
Jones also included Tamworth trainer Lesley Jeffriess’ duo of Stretch (Scott Thurlow) and Heistmaster (Sophie Young) as strong chances.
“They’re both second up from a spell and could be hard,” he said.
Clear Knight enters today’s main race with wins over 1300m (August 25) and 1400m at Armidale three weeks later before the hat-trick eluded him in the 1400m Bundarra Cup on October 6.
In that, he was beaten only two lengths by Armidale-trained gelding Rhodonite.
“He’s got to be a chance,” Jones said of his wife’s only galloper in work.
“He’s got a good strike – hopefully he can continue that but it’s not going to be easy.”
As usual, Jones will sit Clear Knight just in behind the pace for today’s run to the line.
“He’s pretty adaptable but he likes to be not too far off the speed.
“He’s Sheridan’s only one in work at the moment but we’ve got a full brother to him just broken in and ready to be named and raced,” Jones said.