It’s fair to say Pearcedale trainer David Crawford has thrown lightly raced home-bred youngster Sir Harley in the deep end in Friday afternoon’s Group 3 Cranbourne Classic heats (520m).
Sir Harley doesn’t turn two until November and has raced only eight times, for three wins, and he’s facing by far the biggest test of his brief career in the second of three Classic heats, where his opposition includes last start G3 Warragul St Leger victor Aston Fastnet.
“I wasn’t going to put him in the heats because he’s six months too young but he’s a very promising dog with a lot of potential and it’s really his home track; he’s done all his trialling at Cranbourne or Sandown,” Crawford said.
“Aston Fastnet is seasoned and he’s been racing against good dogs so he’s entitled to be a red-hot favourite, whereas my bloke is a bit of an unknown factor.
“I’m not saying he can beat Aston Fastnet but I think he can make the final and then it’s a totally different ball game.
“Whatever happens on Friday I think he could have a good race in him at some stage.”
Crawford has always held a lofty opinion of Sir Harley and his last two victories at Sale (24.52sec) and Cranbourne (30.10sec BON, won by 10 lengths), convinced the veteran mentor to give him a crack at the Classic.
“He’s always had a lot of ability and been a long way better than the rest of the litter,” Crawford explained.
“I said to my wife (Shona) about six months ago that if he isn’t a really good dog we were in trouble with the rest of them!”
Sir Harley, a son of Dundee Osprey and Jacqui Shoshone, justified Crawford’s optimism when clocking 24.75sec on debut at Sale, with dual country cups winner Ferdinand Boy taking out the inaugural The Horizon in 24.59sec the same night.
“After that I took him to The Meadows, he trialled well there and I thought he was nearly a good thing but he had a bad fall on the first corner,” Crawford said.
“After that he was trialling well but you don’t know what’s going on in their heads when they’ve had a fall.
“He started odds-on at Sandown and ran fourth and then went back to Sale and got checked and finished fourth again. You’re not sure what to do. Do you turn them out or like when you fall off your bike, do you get back on it?
“But then his next run in the heat at Sale was enormous. He made up 10 lengths to run second and then in the final he jumped really well and that was the end of the race.
“His last win at Cranbourne where he ran 30.10sec on a slow track would’ve been about 29.80sec on a fast track. He ran 5.40sec early but he has run in the 5.30s in trials.
WATCH: Sir Harley (3) earned a crack at the G3 Cranbourne Classic heats with a runaway 10L 30.10sec BON victory at Cranbourne on August 4.
“If you run 29.80sec at Cranbourne you’re a chance in anything.”
Sir Harley is closely related to Crawford’s former classy stayer He Shall Power (pictured), which ran third in last year’s G1 Sandown Cup, with the up-and-comer’s mother, Jacqui Shoshone, a half-sister to He Shall Power (Dundee Osprey x Shall She Rock).
“Sir Harley is a three-quarter brother to He Shall Power,” Crawford said.
“I knew Sir Harley was well above average so I did something I’ve never done before with a repeat mating. I’ve done repeats before but I’ve always gone to something else in between.
“We only breed one litter each year so I thought we might as well go again. The second litter is six months old now.
“He Shall Power had been racing over in Perth and we brought him back to get him ready for the (G1) Bold Trease at Sandown, which he ran fourth in last year, but unfortunately he broke his hock in a trial and won’t race again.”
Aston Fastnet is Crawford’s major obstacle in the second Classic heat, with David Geall’s Koblenz, winner of 17 from 25, and Andrea Dailly’s two-time G1 winner Qwara Bale the headline acts in heats one and three respectively.
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