Dryden’s Kosciuszko Conundrum With Handle The Truth

Trainer Keith Dryden is in two minds about whether or not to tackle The Kosciuszko first-up with 2019 champion Handle The Truth.

That’s assuming the rising six-year-old is selected by one of the $5 ticket winners come the draw on September 9 and Dryden isn’t taking that for granted either.

It’s been Dryden’s blueprint in the past two years for Handle The Truth to run in the $1.3m country feature at his second run from a break but he’s finding deviating from that plan tempting at this early stage.

Trainer Keith Dryden (Pic: Steve Hart)

“I’m contemplating, which is against everything I’ve ever said, having a crack at it first-up,’’ Dryden said.

“He goes particularly well first-up, he’s run bottlers every time first-up.

“I always reckoned you needed a run under your belt and I might go back to that, it depends on how I’m going for time.”

Prior to winning the Kosciuszko two years ago Handle The Truth contested a Benchmark 88 at Randwick, two weeks out, and Dryden used the same formula last year.

However, in 2021 his benchmark rating is in the mid-90s meaning if Dryden follows the same pattern he’ll have to carry a big weight in another Benchmark 88 or take on a race like the Group 2 Premiere Stakes at weight-for-age against the likes of Nature Strip and Classique Legend.

“The problem is there’s not a lot of lead up races for the higher rated horses,’’ he said.

“If we’ve got to do it (take on Everest horses) we’ve got to do it.”

Handle The Truth won the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra in March and he hasn’t raced since chasing home Marway, conceding that horse 7kg and carrying 61kg, in the Wagga Town Plate.

Dryden said the gelding is currently doing pacework and will be ready to trial in five to six weeks, by which time he’ll have a clearer picture of how he wants to approach The Kosciuszko.

But he’s aware that his previous performances in the race don’t guarantee selection, he started $9 in running fourth behind It’s Me last year and is a $15 chance in TAB’s all-in market.

“From my view it’d be disappointing not to get a run but it could happen,’’ Dryden said.

“It’s a great effort to get a run each year and the horse is still well, I think he’s stronger this time than he has been.

“I’m really happy with the horse again, he’s easy to deal with and it’s just about placing him now.”

The $5 tickets are on sale now via TAB, check out www.thekosciuszko.com.au for details, with the fourth edition of the $1.3m The Kosciuszko run on Everest Day – Saturday 16 October.

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Main photo credit: Bradley Photos