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Pride keeping faith in one-time Doncaster favourite

Having successfully converted Private Eye from a Group One-winning miler into one of Australia's best sprinters, Joe Pride will attempt the reverse with his Everest hero Think About It.

Private Eye won the 2021 Epsom Handicap over the famous Randwick mile and wasn't disgraced when stretched out to 2000m two starts later to finish fifth in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m). He has since placed in the past two renewals of The Everest (1200m), captured a $3 million Winners Stakes (1300m) and run Imperatriz to a narrow margin in the Lightning Stakes (1000m).

Pride says it isn't unusual for a horse's pattern to change over time, pointing to multiple Group 1 winner Mahogany, a grand campaigner during the mid-1990s, as a prime example.

"We see it all the time, horses do different things throughout their careers," Pride said. "One of the most high-profile ones I remember was Mahogany winning two Derbies as a three-year-old and turning out to be a really good sprinter.

"Horses do change over time. They change their racing patterns, they change the amount of speed they have in their legs."

Think About It faces a number of challenges in the Doncaster Mile; picture Michael McInally/Racing Queensland

Think About It proved he could stretch his brilliance to at least 1400m with his win in last year's Stradbroke Handicap, then was specifically trained as a sprinter in the spring.

This campaign, Pride has come in with the mindset of testing the prolific winner in Randwick's most famous mile, albeit off the back of a preparation that hasn't gone to script.

Beaten first-up in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) after making a mid-race move, Think About It endured a tough run on-speed from an outside draw when fifth in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m). While they weren't the results Pride was hoping for, he wasn't disappointed in the horse and said Think About It was "spot-on" for Saturday's $4 million showpiece.

Will he run out the journey strongly? Not even Pride can be sure. But he isn't afraid to find out.

"I don't know any more than anyone else. At the end of the day, nobody has seen him run over a mile," Pride said.

"Everyone has got an opinion, that's what these good horses seem to do is attract opinions. I'm sure if he doesn't run a mile, I'll have a million people telling me I'm an idiot for trying, but I want to find out and this is the right time of year to do it."

The distance won't be Think About It's only Doncaster challenge. He has topweight of 57kg, an impost last carried to victory by Happy Clapper in 2018; he has drawn wide in barrier 15 and is unknown on heavy ground should the forecast deluge of rain eventuate.

Pride acknowledges all of the negatives, but says if any horse can overcome them, it is Think About It.

"This horse would run through a brick wall," Pride said. "He's in terrific order. The runs he's had has made it impossible to win, so I haven't been disappointed in him and he hasn't been beaten far in either run.

"It has always been a preparation that was going to culminate here, so we're on track."

In a capacity field of 20 plus four emergencies, Think About It is a $17 chance, with the emerging Another Wil the $3.80 favourite after forcing his way into the race with his Doncaster Prelude victory last weekend.

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