Kicking off the long weekend of racing is French trained Amade who has made the journey to New York, America. After his impressive wins in England, Amade was selected as a European representative for the Group 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. Leading into Belmont Stakes Day, this race is run on the turf over 2 miles (3200m). A top effort will confirm Amade’s credentials for a potential spot in this year’s Melbourne Cup.
To Eagle Farm in Queensland on Saturday, Tom Melbourne has been given the chance to crack his Group 1 duck at his 12th attempt – with a Stradbroke Handicap mission given the green light. The enigmatic galloper, who has 14 career second-placings to his name, ran second for the third consecutive time in the Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup last start. Tom will carry just 53.5kg in the Stradbroke and is set to be ridden by Corey Brown.
After strong wins in the Group 3 JRA Plate and Listed Lord Mayor’s Cup, Grey Lion also heads to Eagle Farm for the Group 2 Brisbane Cup. Trainer Matthew C Smith has found the key to this horse, with Grey Lion in career best form. Kathy O’Hara again takes the reins, looking to give the 7yo gelding another victory at stakes level.
Joining Grey Lion in the cup is Tony Haydon trained Master Zephyr. Whilst not ideal that he missed his recent lead-up run, Master Zephyr is very fit and will relish the 2400m journey. Down in the weights, he has a chance to run into the money.
Below: In full flight….Master Zephyr with Dwayne Dunn on board.
To Victoria on Saturday, OTI has four runners travelling to Flemington. Chelkar, a French-bred, previously Irish trained gelding looks to be making his Australian debut for Archie Alexander. Since arriving in Australia Chelkar has thrived and is doing well under the care of his new stable, being a favourite ride of trainer’s wife Annie Alexander. His recent jump out in preparation for this races was solid and we hope to see a strong performance from this horse.
Loresho also heads to Flemington on Saturday and is one of OTI’s most interesting starters for the BM84 Handicap. A Group 3 French winner who has had four skin grafts due to an injury that has set him back since 2017, is having his first start back in over 18 months for Matt Williams. The Ballarat Veterinary Practice, supported by many, have done an outstanding job and we are looking forward to seeing him back at the races.
In the same race, the progressive import Dark Pearl has had a pleasing first up run after a setback and has laid the foundation for a competitive run. Angelic Spirit also joins Chelkar and Dark Pearl, looking to take on the boys over the 1800m journey. First-up this preparation, this late developing filly trialled very well this week and will be most competitive.
Tigre Royale heads to Swan Hill on Saturday where he has fallen upon a nice race. Trainer Archie Alexander believes a rise in distance to the 2100m looks to suit and he goes into the race with form good enough to be competitive. With winkers on this start to assist with focus, he has been tracking along nicely this preparation.
Below: Tigre Royale in pristine condition leading into his race.
A Matthew C Smith combo will also step out in New South Wales on Saturday with Plymouth Road at Randwick for the BM78 over 2400m and Attorney at Newcastle in a Class 1 1600m. Plymouth Road is in great condition leading into the race and Smith feels he will get the right track conditions to suit. Being a horse that is very strong in these staying tests, the jockey will be instructed to let Plymouth Road settle and bowl along at his own pace. We hope to see him finishing off and in the top 3.
To Newcastle, Matthew Smith has another runner for OTI – in that of French import Attorney. Having his first start in Australia Smith has found a lovely race and a track to suit. The shorter distance may not be in this horse’s favour but it will be a great experience for him to gain a better understanding of racing Down Under. He will continue to improve this preparation as he moves up over the right staying journey.
French-trained Vela also runs on Saturday at Maisons Laffitte, which will be run in early hours of Sunday morning Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). Having relocated to the Chantilly training base of Englishman John Hammond, Vela is poised to do well for his new trainer. He goes back to the 1200m trip for the upcoming Handicap.
Below: Vela powering home to win at Maisons-Laffitte.
Last but not least, Inverloch steps out for Busuttin Racing on Sunday for the final day of the country racing carnival at Swan Hill. Not the strongest race on paper, he looks set to run top 3. Apprentice Thomas Stockdale takes the irons to remove a couple of extra kilos. Natalie Young oversaw Inverloch’s track gallop during the week and was impressed with what she saw, so the Busuttin team are hoping to see a solid run.
Best of luck to all of their connections and those heading either overseas or interstate to watch their horses compete. Happy racing!