Top trainer focused on Cup, Eye Liner double
ADELAIDE trainer Lloyd Kennewell was doing nothing to hide his confidence yesterday about his chances of scooping the pool on Ipswich Cup Day.
Kennewell and his father and fellow trainer Gary have strong hands in both the Ipswich Cup (2150m) - with Rialya - and Eye Liner Stakes (1350m), with Conservatorium.
"They're good races, the prizemoney is good and we're not up here for a holiday," Lloyd said.
He said Rialya, last year's Group 1 Adelaide Cup winner over 3200m, was ready to hit his peak for Saturday's Ipswich Cup.
He has been allotted 55kg, only a kilo under his Adelaide weight and 5kg less than the handicap of Ipswich Cup topweight Voila Ici.
"He's had a really good preparation," Kennewell said.
"He's been set for this race and to get in only a kilo over the limit with only three horses ahead of him in the weights is ideal. I think the track will suit him too."
The trainer agreed Rialya' five races following the Adelaide Cup win were under par but there were excuses and his past three starts were promising.
"He had one preparation in the spring and to be honest he wasn't 100%. He didn't have a good spell after the Adelaide Cup and it all caught up with him," he said.
"His run last start was super and should have topped him off nicely for this run."
His last-start run was a close-up seventh behind Precedence in the Premier's Cup (2200m) after making the pace with Jim Byrne in the saddle.
Kennewell said he expected Rialya would be prominent from the start in Saturday's Cup.
"I'm fairly certain he'll be in the first three in the race," he said.
The trainer said he chose Jim Byrne to ride his gelding but not just because he's renowned as a great rider at Ipswich.
"I think Jim is one of the all-time greatest Queensland jockeys. He's ridden the horse and he's familiar with him now," he said.
Kennewell is equally bullish about the chance of Conservatorium who is listed as being trained by Gary but is being looked after by Lloyd.
"We have two individual training licenses because we don't want a dual license. Dad is taking a bit of a back seat lately but we work well together because we understand each other and we have a common goal of winning races," Lloyd explained.
He said he had put aside the disappointment of missing a start in last week's $1.36 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) and had refocused on the Eye Liner.
Conservatorium missed the field for the Stradbroke after being narrowly beaten in the QTC Cup at Eagle Farm on June 1.
The start before, he ran second in the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap (1200m) in Adelaide and last November he finished a close-up fifth behind Barakey in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth. He has topweight of 59kg for the Eye Liner but that is offset by barrier four.
"Conservatorium has had a super campaign," Kennewell said. "I think the Eye Liner is an ideal race for him too.
"He's run second in a Group 1 race and was beaten in a photo finish in a Group 2 race so this horse is going super."
Conservatorium hasn't won since October 2011 and has had some ups and downs but his trainer said he's in peak form now.
"He lost his way for while, as all horse do, but he's run the best races of his life in the last six months," he said. "He hasn't won them but all indications are he's peaking for this race.
"Originally I was disappointed he didn't get a run in the Stradbroke and if got the photo finish he would have been in it but this race will really suit him.
"Initially I was disappointed too with the 59 kilos but when I looked at the horses under him, I realised he's the class horse of the field. And if you said to me you can have 57 kilos and barrier 12 or 59 kilos and barrier four, I'd take that any day."
Kennewell said the Eye Liner was a stepping stone for another shot at the Winterbottom.