Will a gear change, a jockey switch or more positive riding tactics be the key to a million dollar win for lightly-raced three-year-old Bottega at Randwick on Saturday?
Trainer Gerald Ryan has added blinkers to Bottega's gear and has engaged Glen Boss - the jockey of the Sydney spring carnival - for the inaugural $1 million Bondi Stakes (1600m) in the wake of his controversial third behind stablemate Colada in the G2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) at the same course two weeks ago.
Bottega, ridden by Josh Parr, started a heavily supported favourite on the back of impressive provincial wins at his first two starts but left many of his backers nonplussed when he conceded what proved to be an impossible start to his front running stablemate, a 20/1 chance.
Mid-race Bottega was a clear last in a strung out field. By the time they reached the 600m, as Colada's rider Robbie Dolan cleverly increased the tempo that led to him running a course record, he was 15 lengths in arrears of his stablemate.
At that point it was obvious Bottega would have to produce something special to win and it did indeed prove beyond him.
When they hit the line Bottega had cut back the margin to 2.3 lengths after running his last 600m in 33.23 seconds compared to Colada's closing sectional of 34.81, times that show how Dolan stole the race between the 800m and 400m.
Bottega's inexperience played its part but it wasn't a good look and stewards rightfully questioned Parr about his tactics to clear the air.
Boilover! Colada, stablemate to the favourite Bottega, wins the G2 Stan Fox Stakes pic.twitter.com/O7dgIJ4BgL— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) October 12, 2019
The stewards were satisfied that Parr had ridden Bottega in a manner to allow it to obtain the best possible placing but Ryan's reaction sees the application of blinkers and Boss called in as the colt's new rider.
Ryan says he expects blinkers will help Boss adopt more positive tactics in the early stages while anticipating Dolan will again look for the lead on Colada.
"I expect them to run similar races but I doubt Bottega will get as far back in the blinkers," Ryan said.
"He's had them on heaps of times in his work.
"They are both nice horses and it's a pity they have to run against each other.''
Boss is the man of the moment among the Sydney riding ranks after winning the $1 million Epsom Handicap (Kolding) and $14 million Everest (Yes Yes Yes) at Randwick this month to go with his victory in the $3 million Doncaster Mile (Brutal) in April.
They are wins that have re-established the 50-year-old among the top echelon of Australian jockeys after his return from several seasons riding in Singapore.
Bottega and Colada meet a deeper field in the Bondi Stakes with the classy pair Kubrick and Just Thinkin' coming out of strong Group One races at their latest starts
They are well placed under the weight scale that sees all the colts and geldings carrying 57kg and the lone filly Kooweerup 2kg less.
However Ryan is confident the Stan Fox Stakes form will hold up but Dolan's tactics may well be determined by how aggressive Tim Clark wants to be in the early stages on the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott runner Just Thinkin'.
Just Thinkin' is also a recognised leader and it will be a shock if he doesn't press forward early after leading them up in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on October 12.
He finished fourth behind the Victoria Derby favourite Shadow Hero but only tired in the last 100m to be beaten 1.3 lengths. He will be much harder to run down over the shorter trip on Saturday if allowed to dictate;
Erno is another horse with early pace, adding to the projected map where the anticipated early pressure will set up a solid tempo and play to the strengths of Kubrick and Bottega.
Kubrick, second in the G1 JJ Atkins over 1600m at Eagle Farm in June, finished fifth behind Bivouac and Everest winner Yes Yes Yes in the G1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill before heading to Melbourne for the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12.
He endured a tough run three wide before weakening out of it and can bounce back in this company with a favourable passage from the rails barrier.