Aesop set for Australian debut at Sandown

Since his debut win for OTI at Cork back in April 2021, Aesop has been a horse held in high regard. Formerly trained by Jessica Harrington and now in the care of Phillip Stokes, all involved are very much looking forward to seeing him make his Australian debut over 1600m (BM70) at Sandown this evening alongside fellow OTI galloper, Vardani.

Given time to settle into his new surrounds, Aesop has been brought along patiently at Phillip Stokes’ Garfield property, an environment that suited him perfectly during the early stages of his preparation. Now with three trials under his belt, all of which he showed good speed in, we expect to see a forward showing.

Ahead of the run, Phil has said “I’m very excited to see him race. Obviously a mile is short of where he needs to be but he’s had a good build up to this and we should see him running on well”.

The more favoured of our two runners in the market, Vardani, heads into this race off the back of two promising efforts, which included a four-length romp at Warrnambool in early December. The widest alley has left trainer Archie Alexander frustrated, but with luck on our side, we once again expect the grey son of Charm Spirit to be working home strongly.

Vardani running away an impressive winner at Warrnambool two starts ago (Racing Photos).

We wish the connections of both Aesop and Vardani the very best of luck!

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Gambu, Te Akau Shark’s half-brother takes first step to glory

Gambu, Te Akau Shark’s 3yo half-brother started his career in perfect fashion last Saturday with an authoritative win in a 1350m Maiden at Ipswich. The win was not only impressive, but it gave his trainer Chris Waller the confidence to announce that he would now be prepared for the Queensland Derby.

Te Akau Shark is certainly one of the most esteemed gallopers produced in New Zealand over the last five years. He too was a relatively slow maturer who, as a 4yo, went on to win two Group 1’s and finish 3rd in a Cox Plate. As a yearling, he was passed in at the sales before being sold at the Breeze Ups for $230,000. 

With Covid restricting the then yearling’s ability to travel to the 2019 Inglis Sales, OTI was fortunate enough to privately secure Gambu. Showing little in his work as a 2yo, Chris Waller’s team have brought him along gradually through the early part of his 3yo career. The efforts of their work were shown on Saturday. Very green and still not fully in charge of his facilities, the gelding showed that he is full of natural talent in being able to sprint quickly over the final 400m and win comfortably.

Gambu passes the post first at Ipswich on Saturday.

Not only will it be exciting to watch Gambu’s progress, but also to observe the development of the full-brother to Te Akau Shark who OTI secured at last year’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale. His name is Coppleson and like Gambu, he is being brought along patiently, although he does appear more forward than his older half-brother at the same stage.

Coppleson as a yearling.

Also being trained by Chris Waller, the 2yo colt has had his first preparation at the Rosehill Stables. He performed well and looks to have the maturity and talent to race as a late 2yo.

There’s an old saying in racing that good horses produce good horses. It’s little wonder that being out of the G2 winning mare Bak da Chief, herself the producer of 6 winners, Coppleson looks to have a great chance to emulate his full-brother and join Gambu as a most exciting horse for his owners.

Should further information be needed on either Coppleson or Gambu, we welcome your enquiry.

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I’m Thunderstruck returns to work towards big race targets

The stakes have risen for co-trainers Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr in their new Cranbourne training base with the return of springtime stable stars pointing towards summer and autumn features.

Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) and Golden Eagle (1500m) winner I’m Thunderstruck is one of the big names to return to work.

“He walks back into our barn today,” Kent Jnr told RSN.

“He’s done super.

“That was only his second racing prep, really, and he deserved a long break so he got a six week spell.

“He’s done remarkably well and I think the world is his oyster.”

I’m Thunderstruck is the $4 favourite with TAB in the pre-nominations market for the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on 12 February however the stable is yet to decide whether the star four-year-old gelding by 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking will reappear on race day in that race or the Group 1 Futurity Stakes over 1400 metres.

Later on the $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) on 19 March at Flemington carries a significant carrot.

“He’ll have a go at the All-Star Mile second or third-up,” Kent added.

This article was written by the team at Just Horse Racing and can be read in full here.

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