Leading Hunter trainer Clayton Harmey will keep Fire And Sword in work for a shot at the NSW Breeders Challenge series, if it goes ahead, after his third place in the group 1 Gold Chalice final at Bathurst.
A $71 chance on Saturday night after qualifying with a distant second in his heat, Fire And Sword made the most of his pegs draw on the second line to finish as the best of the rest behind winner Focus Stride and favourite Perfect Stride. The effort was a repeat of Straddie's performance in the three-year-old colts and geldings series last year for the Nulkaba trainer.
"He was sensational," Harmey said. "I didn't really give him a hope going into it, but the owner paid up for it and wanted to go.
"We got the good draw, which helped, but his run was still very good.
"He was caught up at the turn and was still able to draw away from the second bunch of horses, and he only got beat seven metres by the two favourites. I was pretty proud.
"After racing down there on Monday, he came all the way home. They took him back down again yesterday and brought him back this morning, and he ate out.
"He's only three and he gets around every track, so he's going to keep getting better."
Harmey and owner Reg Walsh had planned to tackle the NSW Breeders Challenge in late May but that series is in doubt because of programming changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. If it is called off, Harmey will spell the promising pacer.
"The original plan was to wait because he's too highly rated to race in the country for a three-year-old, so we were going to freshen him up and set him for the Breeders Challenge, which would be the same field he raced last night, so he would have to be competitive," he said.
La Cabeza Gem, for Maitland's Guy and Mitch Chapple, was eighth in the Gold Tiara final after tiring from the one-one sit.
At Newcastle on Saturday night, Harmey had a winning double with Choisir Damour and Pilot Pete.
Choisir Damour, also owned by Walsh, was a $10 chance, while Pilot Pete was favourite after two seconds since joining Harmey.
"She got a bit of luck but ran good time. The other one was expected to win," Harmey said. "We only just bought him. We got him cheap before his past two starts where he just got beat. Last night we went forward and he did the job."