Mick Price is gearing up for a successful spring season on the track, the esteemed Victorian trainer holding especially high hopes for his 2011 Epsom Handicap-bound duo of Aloha and Heart Of Dreams.
Price’s two Group 1 winners were just two of the 121 horses entered for the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) running at Randwick on October 1 when Epsom Handicap Day nominations were taken by Racing NSW this week.
Both gallopers are making excellent progress according to Price, who will first saddle his former Underwood Stakes winner Heart Of Dreams up at Caulfield this Saturday.
Six-year-old Show A Heart gelding Heart Of Dreams has failed to win at elite level since their Underwood success back in 2009, but has enjoyed plenty of strong Group performances.
Their last turf triumph was a big win over Precedence in the Group 2 St George Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield in February.
Most recently Heart Of Dreams ran third behind Hay List in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick and then was beaten less than a length when fourth to My Kingdom Of Fife in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast last start on May 7.
Heart Of Dreams will race first-up this Saturday against a crack field likely to include Australian Guineas – AJC Derby double winner Shamrocker and Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckday in the $200,000 Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m).
Despite the class of their competitors, Price is confident Heart Of Dreams will put in a good show.
Price was impressed with the galloper’s third to Toorak Toff in a 990 metre hitout at Cranbourne on Monday, when ridden by Damien Oliver, and is looking forward to watching them return to race conditions on Saturday.
“He was beaten six-and-a-quarter lengths but that’s OK because he was having a soft trial,” Price said.
“It is not the time to have a hard trial five days before Saturday.
“So he’s running in the Memsie, he’s had a good prep, I’m very happy with him.
“He’s a weight-for-age horse, it’s on his home track and he’s there to run well.”
As well as the Epsom Handicap in Sydney, Heart Of Dreams is also nominated for one of the Melbourne Spring Carnival’s premier feature showdowns, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Current Cox Plate odds at Luxbet have Heart Of Dreams rated a $35 outsider to upset the likes of clear $7 favourite Whobegotyou and Melbourne Cup top elect Lights Of Heaven.
That price is sure to firm if Heart Of Dreams wins first-up in the Memsie.
Fellow Epsom Handicap nominee Aloha also impressed Price at Monday’s Cranbourne trials, the Coolmore Classic winning mare taking out her 800 metre trial by a length with ace hoop Glen Boss aboard.
“She trialled well and she’s going well,” Price said.
Encosta De Lago five-year-old Aloha was last seen running a credible sixth on a Heavy Randwick track in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 16.
Aloha is set to resume in the $200,000 Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 3.
Price is planning a big spring for Aloha who, along with the Espom, may target races including the $350,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 24, the $350,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 8 and the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, October 29.
“I’m hoping she’s not one of the mares who just goes good in the autumn.”
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