Grahame Begg is aiming his well-bred mare Palacio De Cristal for a swansong elite level race before she is retired as a broodmare at the end of the season.
Encosta De Lago five-year-old, Palacio De Cristal is looking to tackle the $500,000 Group 1 Winter Stakes (1400m) at Brisbane’s final Queensland Winter Racing Carnival meet.
From a 27 start career to date Palacio De Cristal has crossed the winning post first on five occasions most recently defeating No Evidence Needed, one of seven brave horses accepted to take on Black Caviar in the BTC Cup this Saturday, in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes (1400m).
Her other two race wins were back in 2009 and included another black-type in that year’s Group 2 Villiers Stakes over the mile at Randwick.
With a fraction under $470,000 in career earnings, Palacio De Cristal is sure to make a valuable broodmare but a Group 1 win to her name would mean everything to Randwick-based Begg.
Last start at Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day, April 2, Palacio De Cristal finished a credible fourth to Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500m).
That was the 10th Group 1 race Palacio De Cristal had contested, her best performance in a top level showdown being third to Alverta in the 2010 Coolmore Classic at Rosehill.
Begg has Palacio De Cristal accepted for the $175,000 Listed Dark Jewel Classic (1400m) at Scone on Saturday, for which she has drawn ideally in barrier one and is set to face off against the likes of the Peter Snowden-trained trio of Mascareri, Screen and Shannara.
Then it is up north to the sunshine state for the Brisbane Carnival for her farewell finish.
The mare seems to be in good shape having performed well in an eye-catching track gallop at Randwick on Tuesday morning, giving Begg confidence she will be competitive in the Dark Jewel.
“Her work this morning was outstanding,” Begg said on Tuesday with Palacio De Cristal recording a 1000m solo workout in 1:04.70.
“She has been going terrific this whole preparation but we just haven’t been able to get her on the right surface.
“She had a nice trial at Randwick last Friday behind Hay List to suit her up for this Saturday’s assignment.
“We are going to get a firm surface at Scone.
“I wish the race was 1500 metres, just that fraction longer, but you can’t have everything.
“A dry track and a big track, that’s exactly what she wants.”
Before being sent to the breeding barn, Begg will saddle Palacio De Cristal up in at least one more Group 1 feature.
“She is nominated for the Stradbroke (Handicap) and the Winter Stakes and we’ll keep our options open as to whether we run her in the Stradbroke,” Begg said.
“But we’ll take her up for the Winter Stakes.”
The Winter Stakes runs on June 25 at Eagle Farm, a fortnight after the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 11.
A possible spanner in the works could be superstar Black Caviar, with Peter Moody looking at running the unbeaten four-year-old in these two features also.
Black Caviar vies for a baker’s dozen of successive wins this Saturday facing seven rivals in the $400,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben.
After drawing ideally in barrier four, connections are confident the $3.2 million earner will maintain her flawless record and are already looking towards more elite level glory.
“The Stradbroke is pie in the sky stuff but we threw her into the race (nominations) to see what weight she gets,” Moody said.
“The Winter Stakes might be something we could look at.”