Timing was Precise for two-time Cup winner
By Adam Hicks
PRECISE TIMING lived up to its name by pulling off a massive form reversal to claim consecutive $20,000 XXXX Gold Lismore Cups (1516m) on Saturday.
Prior to the weekend's run, the Taree-trained gelding had not won a race since the Lismore Cup in September 2006.
It had finished last in its previous start as favourite against lesser opposition at Taree on November 6, where even its trainer Ross Stitt dropped $1000 on him at $3.80.
Hardly the preparation that gives punters confidence, Stitt said. And although he was not surprised by the Cup win, he could not understand what happened in Taree.
"I can't explain it," he said.
"Maybe the (equine influenza) vaccination flattened him. I'm not a betting man, but I lost $1000 of my own money on him. It was the worse race of his career."
His worst race was backed up by arguably his best where he paid $8 with a three-quarters of a length win from $2.20 favourite Felixtrinidad, with Rainbow's View ($5) a further length and three-quarters back in third.
"That's what we came for," Stitt said. "He was coming in September. We had him primed but when the EI hit we had to stop and bring him back.
"The only thing that was worrying us was the distance."
But Stitt's fears about Precise Timing's ability to step down to the 1516 metres were allayed soon after the start.
"I knew he was going to win from 600 metres on," Stitt said. "He came into it so easy."
Lost Weekend jumped fast but Rainbow's View took over by the 200m mark and set a cracking pace to take a two-length lead into the home straight. Stitt said the early pace had played into his hands.
"The harder they go the better," he said. "He was second last for the first few hundred metres and got up to be sixth or seventh mid-race.
"He travelled really well and when they straightened he just peeled out from behind them.
"(Jockey) Robert (Thompson) only had to give him two taps."
The win was number 3240 for Thompson and continued a partnership with Stitt that has lasted over 27 years.
Stitt said Precise Timing was the best horse the pair had shared.
"He's the best we have had; he's won more than $850,000 prizemoney," Stitt said.
Stitt also said the eight-year-old would be given a chance to claim three Cups on the trot.
"He has 12 months. The good Lord willing, if he's sound, he'll be back," he said.
The prospect of a horse claiming a third consecutive Cup in the race's centenary year was a nice thought, according to Lismore Turf Club secretary Michael Timbrell.
"I was a doubter, I thought it was too short for him," Timbrell said.
"I'd like to see him win next year. It has never been done three times in a row and next year is our 100th anniversary so if he can do it, it would be pretty special."
Timbrell said Precise Timing's big win was part of a very successful Lismore Cup day, which attracted 6000 racegoers.
"It was bigger than we expected," he said. "We asked the people to support us and they have come out in the thousands; even the rain didn't deter them.
"All credit to them. I think we've repaid the faith of Racing NSW well and truly and can rightly say, 'We told you it would work'.
"The Lismore Cup has become such an iconic event that sells itself. It has become an institution."