On the weekend Randwick Guineas winner Ilovethiscity kicked off their spring carnival campaign with an eye-catching second in the Warwick Stakes in Sydney, trainer Grahame Begg confident they are overpriced in the futures 2011 Cox Plate markets after their strong return to the turf.
As a three-year-old last spring, Ilovethiscity finished a close third in the prestigious Golden Rose before winning the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) in Newcastle, which earned them a shot at the Melbourne Spring Carnival’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Travelling down to Victoria, however, proved a fruitless affair for Begg and Ilovethiscity who only managed to finish 10th behind Anacheeva in the Guineas.
Bought back to Sydney, Ilovethiscity enjoyed a successful summer – autumn prep with their biggest success being in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Warwick Farm in March.
After running fifth in both the George Ryder and Doncaster Mile during April, Ilovethiscity was sent for a spell and showed they were ready for another shot at the Melbourne spring features this season by resuming with a credible second to the Peter Snowden-trained Pinwheel in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
Begg was pleased with Ilovethiscity’s first-up efforts, believing the Magic Albert four-year-old was a genuine chance of adding a second thoroughbred major to their record this prep.
“Plenty of good horses run second first-up in the Warwick Stakes,” Begg said.
“After the week, Ilovethiscity has had a hoof issue, to see him come out and run like that is very encouraging.
“He was bolting on the home turn but he just doesn’t let down on these heavy tracks like he can on top of the ground.
“He’s never won first-up so I was pretty happy with that under the trying conditions.
“He was pretty exposed at the top of the straight and he stuck it out well.”
The trainer indicated that Ilovethiscity would first target Group 1 glory in Sydney with the $350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 17 and the $500,000 Epsom Handicap (1600m) on October 1 both targets, followed by another trip down south to Melbourne where Begg has ambitiously named the 2011 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22 as the main aim.
Next-up Ilovethiscity is likely to contest the $200,000 Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 10, Golden Rose Day.
“We will wait three weeks and go to the Theo Marks Stakes next and then the quick back-up into the George Main Stakes,” Begg confirmed.
“He’s come back really well.”
Brenton Avdulla, aboard Ilovethiscity for seven of their 14 starts to date including the Warwick Stakes on Saturday, also reported the good comeback from of the 2011 Cox Plate hopeful.
“He went super,” Avdulla said.
“I let him roll from the 500 metres but as soon as I gave him his hed he couldn’t quicking in the heavy conditions.”
Current Cox Plate odds at Luxbet have Ilovethicity rated a $51 outsider to take out the $3 million weight-for-age feature.
Begg also kept the Cox Plate dream alive with fellow $51 roughie, Dubawi mare Secret Admirer who finished a close second behind Red Tracer in the $100,000 Listed Toy Show Quality (1300m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
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