One-time favourite for this year’s lucrative Golden Slipper, Karuta Queen is enjoying a break in the paddock before her Queanbeyan-based trainer Neville Layt brings her back for a hopefully successful Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign.
Not A Single Doubt filly Karuta Queen burst onto the racing scene in impressive style winning her first four career starts.
Among her opening victories was the Wyong – Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic double.
Following her emphatic three length win in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic on the Gold Coast, Karuta Queen continued the hype with a blistering 13 and a half length barrier trial win in February.
Upon resuming, however, the star two-year-old disappointed punters and fans alike when beaten by You’re Canny in the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra on March 13 after which she pulled up lame.
Still, Layt pressed on to the $3.5 million Golden Slipper showdown but his stable frontrunner could only manage to come within six lengths when 10th to runaway winner Sepoy at Rosehill in early April.
Layt is set to bypass any Sydney spring races and this time focus his attention on the Melbourne features for Karuta Queen, who is expected back in his stables by the end of the month.
“We’ll bring her back at the end of this month and get her ready to go down to Melbourne for the spring carnival,” Layt said.
“There’s some nice three-year-old races down there in the spring, and she’s doing very well in the paddock.
“She’s enjoying herself.”
Although Karuta Queen faded badly in the Golden Slipper, Layt still holds nothing but praise for her as a racehorse.
“She has been a lovely filly and I don’t think you’ve even seen the best of her yet,” he said.
“I think when she turns three she’ll be better again.”
Although the Melbourne Spring Carnival is the target, exactly what races Karuta Queen will be nominated for is being decided by Layt.
“I’ve got to wait and get a program for the spring carnival and just have a look at the fillies’ races down there around Moonee Valley at 1000 metres, 1100 and 1200,” he said.
“Try to stick to her own age group and she should win a couple of Group races.”
Possible races within these categories include the Group 3 Champagne Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in September, the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in October and perhaps even the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
In the meantime, Layt will look to recreate some of the magic Karuta Queen’s Gold Coast win bought him back in January as prepares to head back to Queensland for the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Layt’s Snitzel colt One More Grand, a dual city winner at Rosehill last year, could target the Sunshine State showdowns.
Last July One More Grand scored their third career win when the narrow victor of the $70,000 The Rosebud Inglis Bonus Quality (1200m), but hasn’t raced since a disappointing ninth in a 1100m sprint at Canterbury in December.
“He had just one run back in December and he had a little hiccup there,” Layt said of One More Grand who is set to resume in the Guineas Restaurant Handicap (1100m) at Warwick Farm today.
“We had a little operation done on him and he’s come back and he trialled nicely last Tuesday over 900 metres at Canberra.
“He’s back better than ever.”
One More Grand is ridden by the same jockey as Karuta Queen, Tommy Berry.
“I’ll just get him back and see how he goes, but if he comes back as good as I think he will then he might go up to Brisbane somewhere along the line for some of those nice three-year-old races up there.”