Unbeaten speedster Art D’Amour faces his litmus test at Scone on Friday.
That is the view of trainer Cody Morgan ahead of the Tamworth Tornado’s first-up appearance in the $20,000 Country Championship Preview (1300m).
Morgan’s concerns with the mercurial four-year-old revolve around the distance, rather than any queries of class.
“I’d be a lot more upbeat talking to you if this was first-up at 1100m and the (Country Championship) Heat at 1200m instead of 1300m and 1400m,” Morgan said.
“There’s no doubt 1300m first-up is the biggest hurdle he’s got to overcome because so far he’s been a 1000-1200m horse.
“He’s vulnerable to get beaten, but if we’re going to be a player in the Country Championships, he needed a 1300m run as a springboard into it.
“I think he’ll run well, he’s got a soft gate and can get a nice run.”
Morgan has been there for virtually every step of an exciting journey so far with the pint-sized son of Excellent Art.
“His owners Phil and Leanne Moore, who are from Newcastle, have been really good,” Morgan said.
“I broke him in and thankfully they left him with me to train.
“He’s tiny, he’s not even 15 hands.
“I’ve got a few slow horses, but he’s not one of those.”
The young horseman knew from early on he had a better than average horse and Art D’Amour has only reinforced that opinion ever since.
“One day he produced the same first 400m sectional as Clearly Innocent and I thought then he would go all right,” Morgan said.
“He started short odds at Gunnedah on debut, then has gone on to win at Armidale and he was tenacious when he won at Newcastle.
“Apart from Prussian Secret, he’s the best horse I’ve had.”
Ben Looker, who was aboard in a 1000m trial at Tamworth on February 6 is the fourth different jockey in as many starts to partner Art D’Amour.
He follows in the footsteps of Darren Jones, Aaron Bullock and Thomas Huet.
Morgan will also saddle up Van Halen and Pelerin at Scone.
“Van Halen is a horse with limited ability, but this race is set up well for him and it is D-Day for him,” he said.
“He struggles to win races.
“I gave him a trial at Tamworth which he won, so hopefully he can go on with the job.
“If he doesn’t run well he’ll more than likely be sacked.
“Pelerin has won his last three before going out for a spell.
“He’s a nice horse who is resuming at 900m, but it might be a bit short for him.”