Ace Victorian trainer Peter Moody is hoping his classy filly Curtana, a Latinised term used to describe a ceremonial sword, can continue her excellent form and beat home Black Caviar’s brother at Caulfield on the weekend before a stint at the Queensland winter features.
Well-bred Exceed And Excel filly Curtana is a Group 1 runner-up having finished a brave second to Star Witness in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) last October.
She continued on in the spring to win the Listed Gucci Stakes (1200m) on Crown Oaks Day before being sent for a spell, which she resumes from in the $70,000 Moorabbin Steel Plate (1000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Curtana is due to jump from barrier eight in the eight-horse field with ace apprentice hoop Jake Noonan booked for the ride and she is the narrow $3 favourite to win.
“She’s a very nice filly,” Moody said of Curtana.
“She did a good job late in the spring.
“Unfortunately she sustained a minor injury and she had to have a long break over the summer months, hence her late resumption.
“She’s headed towards Queensland all being well.
“We just decided we wanted to give her one run here before we went north (for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival).
“She’s certainly got a class factor about her, being Group One-placed and a stakeswinner.
“She’s open to good improvement but we expect her to run very well, although this is a pretty strong race.
“General Truce has got the Black Caviar form, Black Caviar’s little brother Moshe, Breitling and a few others are there.
“This race wouldn’t be astray as a Listed or Group Three race during the middle of the carnival.”
Following closely in the markets at $4 is a full-brother to the Moody-trained superstar sprinter Black Caviar, Moshe.
By Bel Esprit out of Helsinge, three-year-old Moshe is prepared by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes and has enjoyed a strong start to his career having won three of his four race starts.
“You know, it’s not easy – we are sort of the ham in the sandwich,” former champion jockey Roy Higgins now co-manager of racing group that owns Moshe said.
“His older sister (Black Caviar) is a champion and his younger half-brother has a huge price tag on him.
“Saturday is an extremely important day, a defining day, a day that will largely dictate where he goes and what he tackles.
“In an ideal world, he could have six weeks in the paddock, then have a crack at the early sprint group races, but we have got to wait and see.”
At his most recent run Moshe took out the Moreton Hire Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley on March 18 and has drawn ideally in barrier two for Saturday.
Craig Newitt is booked for the ride, Moshe dropping down three kilograms from 59kg to 56kg making him a strong chance to add another victory to his growing record.
The other major players in Saturday’s Moorabbin Steel Plate are Robert Smerdon’s Lonhro gelding Breitling ($4.40), racing as a gelding for the first time, and the Ricky Maund-trained General Truce.
Brief Truce gelding General Truce is a Group winner having taken out the Maribyrnong Plate two years ago and although having raced competitively placing six times during their next 13 starts, the Maribyrnong in November of 2009 was their last victory.
Topweight of the field allocated 59kg, General Truce will be ridden by apprentice hoop Ashley Thompson meaning he will carry just 56kg with the three-kilo advantage allowed for Thompson.
“We went for the claim because he’s not that big,” trainer Maund said of General Truce.
“We haven’t used the kid (Thompson) before but he’s riding in good form.”
Coming off a third to Shrapnel in the Group 2 Yallambee Classic (1200m) at Morphettville on March 14, connections are hoping to see improvement from General Truce as he steps back in class on Saturday.
“This is a good-class race, very strong for this time of the year,” Maund said.
“He’s going good and they’ll know that he’s there.
“We’ll see how he gets through this run and then we’ll look further on from there.
“To be honest he’s not at that top, top level.
“He’s probably three lengths off being a real good horse and his size comes into it because he sort of struggles at set weights against the better class ones.
“And he was going to struggle with the 59kg on Saturday, so we just have to be very careful where we place him.
“But I’m pretty happy with him.”