Thunderbolt trial vital to track return

Fire Thunderbolt has not been at the racetrack for nearly 15 months. Picture: PAT SCALA

Fire Thunderbolt has not been at the racetrack for nearly 15 months. Picture: PAT SCALA

HORSE RACING

An early-morning Kembla Grange track gallop is likely to determine whether Fire Thunderbolt will make a keenly-anticipated return to racing at Randwick on Saturday.

The grey sprinter locked horns with and wasn't beaten far by Group 1 winners Snitzerland and Nechita during his three-year-old season, but has been plagued by problems since.

His last start was during the Sydney autumn carnival last year, a campaign which followed a close-up second behind Snitzerland in the Blue Sapphire at Caulfield. He actually beat home the world's best sprinter, Lankan Rupee, in that race.

Diane Poidevin-Laine, who now trains the former South Australian horse, has entered Fire Thunderbolt for the June Stakes (1100m) this weekend.

But an end to almost 15 months away from the racetrack won't be confirmed until the stable assesses how Fire Thunderbolt comes through a serious hitout on Wednesday.

"I'm still not 100 per cent whether he'll go around," foreman Carl Poidevin said.

"We're still tossing up whether to wait a little longer and give him a little bit more work because he has been out for so long and got so big.

"It will roll off how he works in the morning and how he feels."

Fire Thunderbolt was transferred to Erwin Takacs' yard for a brief preparation last year, but has since missed the majority of his four-year-old season.

Poidevin-Laine took over the training of Fire Thunderbolt after Takacs was involved in a frightening accident trying to swim a horse on Australia Day.

And there are plenty of options for Fire Thunderbolt through the winter with races such as the Winter Dash, Civic Stakes and Winter Stakes all suitable black type events.

"There's heaps of nice races and we're trying to make sure he's not out of his depth," Poidevin-Laine said. "They're all options and it's a fairly solid race on Saturday."

Les Bridge's in-form mare Avoid Lightning tops a classy field for the June Stakes, which also has speedsters Unanimously, Zaratone, Ichihara, Adebisi and Hurrara engaged. The final field will be declared on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the recent retirement of veteran Maluckyday and injury to Arabian Gold in the Queensland Oaks have put a dent in the racing fortunes of their owner Nick Moraitis.

Trainer Joe Pride is hoping Destiny's Kiss can give Moraitis something to smile about this weekend.

Pride is inclined to keep Destiny's Kiss in Sydney for the Stayers Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday rather than send him to Queensland for the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m).

He believes the Randwick surface may be more forgiving and also has an ambition of his own to fulfil.

"I've never had a two-mile winner before. In fact I don't think I've ever had a two-mile runner so I'm keen to tick that box," Pride said.

"I want a softer track for him and it looks as if that will be Randwick.

"He has come through his last run really well and Josh Parr rides him again."

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