AWARDS await for Ben Smith after his breakout season, but the Newcastle trainer is already focused on an even better campaign with his group 1-winning pair.
In Her Time and El Dorado Dreaming are among five nominations for the provincial horse of the year at Thursday night’s NSW Racehorse Owners Association (NSWROA) Night of Champions awards at Randwick. Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ Le Romain is also in the list.
In Her Time, which gave Smith his first group 1 win when taking out The Galaxy, was also a nomination for NSW sprinter of the year.
Smith looks to have a stranglehold on the provincial award with In Her Time and he is certain to secure at least two honours at the Newcastle Jockey Club presentation next month.
In Her Time, the region’s only open company group 1 winner from last season, is a lock for horse of the year. El Dorado Dreaming will be two-year-old of the year after her shock group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce victory and third in the Champagne Stakes.
“It’s capping off a great year for us, a breakout season for the stable,” Smith said of the NSWROA nominations.
“Even just one would be great, but to have two horses nominated for the awards, it’s a huge thrill. It’s still very early in my career and it’s just a thrill to have horses of that quality, and we’ve got such a small team. We’re up 30 horses in work now and we’re starting to get busier, and we need to try to improve off last season.”
While the spotlight is on In Her Time’s first-up task in the Premiere Stakes on September 29 and run to the $13 million The Everest, El Dorado Dreaming will start her ambitious campaign first.
She will have two trials then resume in the Tea Rose Stakes on September 15 at Rosehill. The Flight Stakes and Thousand Guineas are next before a potential shot at the Cox Plate or AAMI Vase and target, the VRC Oaks.
“There’s some pretty big plans for her but I’m pretty sure she’s in the market in all of those,” Smith said. “We’re just starting to gradually build up In Her Time’s work now and she’s really thriving and starting to come up.
“El Dorado will trial next Monday at Newcastle and we’re starting to screw her down now. It’s just exciting coming into carnival time with two horses who are going to be competitive in these big races.”
He had high expectations for El Dorado Dreaming.
“That run in the Champagne proved she’s up to the grade and she’s come back in better order, so I’m sure she’s going to run well in these big races,” he said.
“She’s just come back stronger and more mature. She was a real baby, two-year-old filly last time and this time she’s come back in like a four-year-old mare.
“She’s been such a professional, switched on and she’s very keen in her work. She’s really going well and just seems a much better racehorse this time in.
He said In Her Time, an $11 chance for the Everest, was “super” since returning to work. She was an impressive winner of the consolation race last year and secured the TAB slot early for the Everest with her Galaxy win.
“We’re having the same preparation as last year, one run into Everest day with a trial 10 days out from her first-up run,” he said.
“It’s carnival time and there’s a lot of horse already up and going, but being signed up early has been a real benefit to us because we haven't needed to be on show to get into the race.
“It’s allowed us to take a step back, be focused and screw her down for that one race.”
In Her Time will have an exhibition gallop on Newcastle Cup day, September 14, and trial five days later.