Ego’s top rank­ing

Ex­alted firms to Cup favouritism

The Sportsman Special Issue - - 80 - By MATHEW TOOGOOD

JIM Smith, trainer of Ade­laide Cup favourite Ex­alted Ego, can’t hide his sur­prise at how things have tran­spired in the past month.

The Morphettville con­di­tioner, who won the Ade­laide Cup two years ago with Ex­alted Time, only started to con­tem­plate a Cup start for Ex­alted Ego at the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary.

Hon­estly, if you’d have told me more than a month ago that Ex­alted Ego would be in a two mile race I would’ve laughed at you,’’ Smith said.

But he’s just done a re­ally good job.’’ Ex­alted Ego earned favouritism for Mon­day’s 3200m Group Two event with a com­pre­hen­sive win in the Group Three Lord Reims Stakes a fort­night ago, de­feat­ing Sad­dler’s Story and Road To Athens.

Even that win, over 2600m, sur­prised Smith.

He did a bit of work, sat up on the speed and then went to the front,’’ he said.

I thought he was go­ing to knock up and run last but he just kept on go­ing.

He’s def­i­nitely sur­prised me, he’s suprised ev­ery­one re­ally.’’

Only 12 months ago the geld­ing was com­pet­i­tive in 1200m stakes races in South Aus­tralia, and he won the Listed Ade­laide Stakes (1600m) last March.

The turn­ing point, in Smith’s eyes, was when Ex­alted Ego won the Listed Birth­day Cup (1800m) early last month with 59kg.

Then at his next start in the Port Ade­laide Cup (2250m) he had 60.5kg, he drew bar­rier 16, didn’t have any luck at all but still stuck to his guns,’’ he said.

He was four and five wide down the side then he came around them and was only beaten less than four lengths so it was not a bad run that day.’’

Matthew Neil­son will be back aboard the geld­ing in Mon­day’s Cup af­ter miss­ing the ride last start with ill­ness.

Smith said the run­ner-up from the Lord Reims Stakes is the big­gest dan­ger.

He (Sad­dler’s Story) drops 2kg and he stuck to his task pretty well last start so he’s go­ing to be up there,’’ Smith said.

Ex­alted Ego’s only other try over 2400m or more was in the 2006 Group Two Sandown Clas­sic in Mel­bourne.

On that oc­ca­sion he fin­ished ninth, beaten nearly four lengths by Gal­lant Guru.

There’s no doubt th­ese days he’s more ma­ture. He’s set­tled down a lot more and is much more re­laxed.’’

Im­prover . . . Ex­alted Ego (Matthew Neil­son) has firmed to Ade­laide Cup favourite

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