Academus the Champagne Classic 2012 Improver

On Saturday Peter Snowden’s up-and-coming Lonhro gelding Academus will step up to Group company at just their second start taking on a crack field at Doomben in the 2012 Champagne Classic.

In a notable class rise the youngster will go form their debut in an Inglis 2YO Bonus at Hawkesbury three weeks ago to the $175,000 Group 2 Bollinger Champagne Classic (1200m) where their most notable danger is odds-on favourite Sizzling.

Academus finished three quarters of a length away second to Villa Splendido on debut over 1200m on May 5 when ridden by Rod Quinn.

They were very green there pulling hard with Quinn forced to take them at the back of the field before they stormed home for a slashing second and should have come on well since.

“It was a huge run but he faces a tough task against this field,” Snowden said.

Snowden is also no dill and the stable has an outstanding record during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival so he knows the right types to bring up to the sunshine state this time of year.

Twelve months ago Snowden’s Ad Valorem colt Free Wheeling, last seen winning the Listed Hawkesbury Guineas on May 5 by an impressive five lengths, won this race second up for the season.

Unfortunately at their next start they reared at the start in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and were declared a non-starter.

Free Wheeling is also back in Brisbane this weekend running in one of the other feature races on Doomben Cup Day, the $125,000 Group 3 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m).

“Free Wheeling is coming off a good win in the Hawkesbury Guineas,” Snowden said.

“He’s up in class and down a lot in weight and I’m expecting him to be very competitive.”

After Saturday Snowden is looking ahead at a similar program that Free Wheeling was on last year before things went amiss with Academus to continue onto the $250,000 Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 2 and the $500,000 Group 1 The TJ Smith (1600m) the following Saturday.

“I want him to be competitive as I’m looking at going on to the Sires’ and TJ Smith with him if runs well,” Snowden said.

“But he’s meeting a lot of horses in this with much more experience than him.”

Snowden will also be seeking successive TJ Smith wins following the success of another son of Lonhro last year, Benfica.

Kelso Wood’s local Snitzel colt Sizzling is the deserved favourite in the Champagne Classic odds at bookmaker.com.au paying $1.85 after their big four and a half length win first-up at the Gold Coast in the Listed Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m).

Academus hasn’t flown under the radar either.

Following Snitzel is Kelly Schweida’s Show A Heart filly Discreet ($6.50) and then Academus shares the third line of Champagne Classic betting with upset Hampden Stakes winner at the track last weekend Noogoora Burr paying $7.

Sizzling and Noogoora Burr are two of the main dangers Snowden named, along with Ken Russell runner-up Dances On Stars ($9.50) from Gerald Ryan’s Sydney stables.

“Gerald Ryan’s runner goes very well as does the favourite Sizzling and I was very impressed with Noogoora Burr’s win last week,” Snowden said.

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