Exciting colt Ellsberg to claim Hawkesbury Guineas on way to Queensland riches

Ellsberg, one of the best-named racehorses in training, can confirm a Brisbane winter carnival campaign if he races up to expectations in the Group 3 $200,000 Blacktown Workers Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at the Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting on Saturday.

Trainers Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou have an open mind about Ellsberg’s interstate big-race program with a lot hinging on how the colt races in the Guineas.

“After the Guineas we will decide which way we go with him in Brisbane,’’ Ryan said.

“If we keep him to sprinting, we could go to a race like the Fred Best Classic as the winner of that race is exempt (from ballot) for the Stradbroke Handicap.

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Co-trainers Sterling Alexiou and Gerald Ryan will use the Hawkesbury Guineas to determine the winter race path for Ellsberg. Photo: Grant GuySource:The Daily Telegraph

“But I’ve always thought this colt would get out to 1800m and there are a couple weight-for-age races around that distance that would suit him, too.’’

Ellsberg scored a brilliant all-the-way win in the Listed South Pacific Classic at Randwick when resuming and is the dominant $2 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds to win the Hawkesbury Guineas.

Ryan and Alexiou had various options with Ellsberg after Randwick including Saturday’s Queensland Guineas at Eagle Farm or next week’s The Coast at Gosford but decided to stick with their original plan of aiming the three-year-old at the Hawkesbury Guineas.,

“We are happy to go with Hawkesbury,’’ Ryan said.

“The plan was to run in the two 1400m races to start his campaign as I didn’t want him to get to 1600m second-up for the Queensland Guineas.’’

Ellsberg was very forward in condition and raced accordingly when he led throughout to win by three lengths at Randwick and Ryan said the colt has been improved by the run.

Ellsberg is a son of ill-fated sire Spill The Beans who was also trained by Gerald Ryan. Photo: Jono Searle.Source:News Corp Australia

“When you get a horse trained up to win at their first run back they don’t go home after the race and jump out of the ground,’’ Ryan said.

“But this colt has, he has tightened up a little and his work has been very good.’’

Ryan said he won’t burden jockey Tim Clark with riding instructions, adding that Ellsberg doesn’t necessarily have to go to the front early in the Hawkesbury Guineas,

“We didn’t have any intention of leading at Randwick as we thought a couple of the others would look to lead,’’ Ryan revealed.

“If anything wants to go ‘mad’ early at Hawkesbury I wouldn’t be frightened to see him take sit. This colt relaxes well in his races.’’

The promising three-year-old colt, who is described as a “kind horse with a beautiful soul” around the stables, is trying to emulate the Hawkesbury Guineas win of his ill-fated sire Spill The Beans, who scored for the Ryan-Clark trainer-jockey combination in the feature race five years ago.

Ellsberg’s sire and dam, he is by Spill The Beans out of Love Of Liberty, provides a clue to the inspiration behind the colt’s name.

Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou have sent Coterie to Eagle Farm on Saturday where he looks a good chance: Photo: Grant GuySource:The Daily Telegraph

The colt is named after Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which led to the Watergate scandal and the eventual resignation of disgraced President Richard Nixon in 1973.

The US Government had Ellsberg charged under the Espionage Act and he was facing a 115-year prison sentence before all charges were dismissed some months later. Ellsberg is now 90 and regarded as a national hero.

Ellsberg the racehorse will be joined on the stable float by four-year-old gelding Steely who lines up in the Blakes Marine Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m).

Steely has won of his 12 starts and at his second run back this campaign scored a tough win at Kembla Grange.

“He is a big horse and has needed time,’’ Ryan said.

“Earlier in the season, he won first-up at Kembla then he went to Newcastle and ran third. A couple of the owners were disappointed but he was beaten by (subsequent Group 1 winners) Mo’unga and Lion’s Roar that day.

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Horse racing: Watch the latest TAB Market Update on the 2021 Group 1 Australasian Oaks

“Then we went to Kembla and he ran third behind Lion’s Roar. The form around him last spring was very strong so it’s good to see him return in such good form this autumn.’’

Ryan and Alexiou also have Coterie, part-owned by popular Australian Turf Club official Nini Vascotto who is battling some health issues, lining up in the Class 6 Handicap (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

“I would like to think Coterie will run well,’’ Ryan said.

“He has travelled up to Brisbane and hasn’t missed a beat, he is down in class and weight so he is there to run a good race.’’

Originally published asEllsberg on trial for Queensland sojourn

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