Momentum is building for camp Decircles ahead of the 2012 Kensington Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, Danny O’Brien’s impeccably bred colt firming into equal favourite to win the summer sprint first-up for the season.
Earlier in the week it was the Anthony Freedman-trained First Command installed as the top fancy to take out the $125,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) this year, the widely-drawn galloper paying $5.50 in the Luxbet markets.
Their price has drifted out to $6 now and two other rivals now share $5.50 favouritism in the Kensington Stakes odds at Luxbet with Decircles and Weekend Special.
The biggest market mover of the two co-favourites is Decircles, backed in from $7 to $5.50 in the past day.
Drawn in gate eight of 11, the Encosta De Lago three-year-old out of Ascot Knight mare Lady Circles races for the first time in five and a half months, their Flemington-based trainer O’Brien keen to see the former spruik colt get back to racing after recovering from a hock injury.
Already a Group 2 runner-up having finished second behind Running Tall as a two-year-old in the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington back in March, Decircles was last seen running away to beat Peter Moody’s $1.87 million purchase Godspeed by a commanding four and a half lengths over 1209m at Seymour on August 7.
“He won so well first-up and then he galloped brilliantly before the McNeil Stakes (on August 28) and we were all so excited, but it was then we found the hock problem,” O’Brien recalled.
“He’d jarred his hock, which is similar to spraining an ankle, but then he got fluid in the hock and that was the end of the spring.
“We’re hoping it was a blessing as it meant he spent the entire spring in the paddock and has enjoyed a really nice, slow build-up to his return.
“He’s going to come back a more mature horse.”
The sole three-year-old in Kensington Stakes contention this year, O’Brien believes over the distance they will be competitive and kick-start a nice prep that is aimed at getting them to the $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 3, a race won by their stablemate Shamrocker last year.
“You’d think over 1000 metres it will be too short for him, but it’s a really nice race for him to kick off in,” O’Brien said.
“Shamrocker went into the Guineas second-up, but she’d come off a spring carnival and had that fitness still going into the autumn.
“But Decircles has been off the scene for so long he’s going to need three runs before he could tackle a race like that.”
The other new favourite in the Kensington Stakes markets at Luxbet is Weekend Special.
Mark Kavanagh’s Snitzel four-year-old comes off tow strong runs in the Essendon Mazda 55 Handicap Challenge over 955 metres at Moonee Valley last month, the first of which they won by a half-length and the second they finished a neck away runner-up to Kensington Stakes rival General Truce in.
Meanwhile, despite having lost their position at the top of the markets, First Command is still being talked up as the horse to beat in the Kensington Stakes by connections.
The Commands six-year-old was impressive first-up on January 7 when a quarter length away third in the Listed Doveton Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, Freedman spruiking them as a top chance coming back in distance for Saturday’s assignment.
“He looks well suited back at the 1000 metres as six of his (nine) wins (from 23 starts) have been at either 1000 or 1100 metres and he drops a kilo (to 58kg) on his last run,’ Freedman said.
“He’s a Group 3 horse, that’s about his level.”
Other notable Kensington Stakes hopes on Saturday include Stephen Brown’s Standish Handicap fourth placegetter Canali ($8 into $7 Luxbet), in-form Brief Truce four-year-old General Truce ($8 into $7.50 Luxbet) and the David Balfour-trained Obsidian Dragon ($8 out to $9 Luxbet) seeking her fourth win on the trot.
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2012 Kensington Stakes Odds
Flemington Race 6 – 21/01/2012
|1||GRAND DUELS (9)||31.00 Luxbet|
|2||FIRST COMMAND (11)||6.00 Luxbet|
|3||CANALI (6)||7.00 Luxbet|
|4||GRAN SASSO (4)||41.00 Luxbet|
|5||GENERAL TRUCE (3)||7.50 Luxbet|
|6||THE SOLDIER (10)||10.00 Luxbet|
|7||OBSIDIAN DRAGON (5)||9.00 Luxbet|
|8||WEEKEND SPECIAL (7)||5.50 Luxbet|
|9||ESPRIT DE BULLET (1)||11.00 Luxbet|
|10||STAR OF GISELLE (2)||11.00 Luxbet|
|11||DECIRCLES (8)||5.50 Luxbet|
*Fixed Win Odds provided by Luxbet and subject to change