Gold Coast-based trainer Bruce Hill is hoping for a first-up win with his promising Danzero gelding Startsmeup at Doomben this weekend, the rising four-year-old to target the Group 1 Toorak Handicap this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
A winner of three of their 15 career starts to date, Startsmeup showed nice progression during their summer-autumn campaign at the start of the year that included a close second to Torio’s Quest in the $1 million Group 1 Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) on the Gold Coast in January.
Earning a shot at the big time, Hill decided to run Startsmeup in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in March after the young galloper was beaten by just a short-head in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) in February by Bullbars.
“His run in the Hayes Stakes never surprised me,” Hill said.
“He was going really good at the time after I took him to Sydney first to break up the long trip from the Gold Coast.
“He had run at Rosehill and ran third but it was very hot at the time with the temperatures over 40 degrees every day leading up to the Rosehill race and when he got to Melbourne it was a lot cooler.”
In the Guineas a horror barrier 15 of 16 draw saw Startsmeup get stuck well back in the field, the horse finishing an unlucky 10th to upset winner Shamrocker before being turned out for a spell.
“Unfortunately, a wide alley killed his chances in the Australian Guineas and he was caught wide all the way,” Hill said.
After winning back-to-back barrier trials over 1000 metres and 900 metres at the Gold Coast and Deagon over the past month, Starstmeup is now set for their return on Saturday.
Hill will saddle them up in the $50,000 Jim Beam QTIS Three-Years-Old Handicap (1100m) at Doomben, Starstmeup the 59.5kg topweight of the field.
Drawn in barrier 11 with Hill’s son-in-law Paul Hammersley to ride, the hoop aboard for 11 of Startsmeup’s starts so far, early markets have Hill’s hopeful as a $10 chance.
“He’s never won first-up and this is only 1110 metres so he might find it a bit short,” Hill admitted.
The Robert Heathcote-trained Excellantes will start the clear favourite in Doomben Race 7 tomorrow following a blistering three length win over Spirit Of Boom in the Hardy Brothers Jewellers Handicap (1200m) at Eagle Farm last start on June 25.
Hill, formerly based in New Zealand and then Melbourne before working as Sydney-based trainer Gerald Ryan’s Gold Coast foreman for a number of years, is eyeing off bigger spring prizes with Startsmeup.
“He’s been in work a fair while and I’ll probably give him another run after this before taking him back to Sydney,” Hill said.
“I haven’t had a good look at the (spring) program for him yet but I want to break up the trip to Melbourne again and will give him a run or two in Sydney along the way.”
Hill also named the $350,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 8 as a possible target, the trainer chasing his maiden thoroughbred major.