Kilmore-based father and son training team Lee and Shannon Hope are eager for a good showing from their Group winning galloper Folding Gear in the Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington this Saturday having nominated the horse for both the 2011 Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate 2011 on Tuesday.
Johar four-year-old Folding Gear may be lightly-raced having had just five starts to date, but the spring hopeful already boasts a black-type victory and cries untapped potential when it comes to the big staying showdowns of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
After breaking their maiden status in a 1800 metre handicap at Sandown in February, Folding Gear went on to claim a surprise win in the Group 2 The Yalumba 162 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
They backed up three weeks later at Moonee Valley, finishing a brave third behind Domesky in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) when having their first run on the Cox Plate track and distance.
The Hopes have now accepted Folding Gear to resume at Flemington this Saturday, the emerging stayer one of 14 horses set to contest the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
Folding Gear will face the likes of Cox Plate-bound Rekindled Interest, Melbourne Cup aspirant Cedarberg and the intriguing Robert Hickmott-trained quartet of Alandi, Midas Touch, At First Sight and Green Moon in the Aurie’s Star.
“It is not the ideal race to be starting off in but we have to start somewhere,” Shannon Hope said.
“The ideal plan would have been kick off in a 0 – 89 (benchmark) race over 1200 metres and to claim three kilos on him but the only race like that was at Mornington and that track doesn’t really suit get-back stayers.
“Mentally and physically he has developed and I am more than happy with him, but 1200 metres is going to be a bit short for him and he is probably going to get a bit lost going down the (Flemington) straight.
“If he is running on and can run top eight and pick up $3,000 I would be happy.”
A good first-up run this weekend and Folding Gear is sure to firm in the early betting markets at Luxbet for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Following the Aurie’s Star, Folding Gear will continue on to the $125,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 17.
“We will take the easiest path with him to that race which will tell us which direction to go,” Hope said.
“If he wins the Naturalism he will qualify for the Caulfield Cup and if he doesn’t stay then we have time to freshen him up for something, maybe at Flemington (during the Melbourne Cup Carnival).
Folding Gear is rated a $21 chance to win the Aurie’s Star on Saturday, betting on Flemington Race 6 lead by last-start All Victorian Sprint Final winner Perturbo ($3.50) and the Peter Moody-trained stakes winning mare Miss Gai Flyer ($5).
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