OTI Racing have added another international star to their growing spring roster with French galloper Prairie Star joining the operation and being set on the 2012 Caulfield Cup path.
The four-year-old Peintre Celbre stallion is the latest Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival-bound acquisition for OTI who came within a nose of Melbourne Cup glory with the popular Bauer who was beaten a nose by the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed back in 2008.
OTI also own the now Peter Moody-trained Manighar, winner of the Australian Cup – Ranvet Stakes – The BMW triple during the autumn.
Now Prairie Star will also sport their unique navy blue, white and yellow colours this spring.
A former star three-year-old, Prairie Star’s career highlight came in May last year when they won the Group 2 Prix Hocquart (2200m) at Longchamp before a credible sixth to the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Reliable Man in the French Derby (2100m).
That will change should they go all the way and win their spring grand final, the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday October 20.
“Very clearly this year his main aim is the Caulfield Cup,” OTI’s Terry Henderson said.
“He will be well-weighted for it, but he lacks a little bit of maturity, which would make us a little bit reserved about pushing him too hard as a four-year-old.”
Boasting decent form around some of France’s top stayers the consistent galloper is still lightly raced having won four of their 11 starts to date.
They are also Group 1 placed having ended their juvenile campaign with a third, albeit beaten seven lengths, behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Recital in the Citerium Saint-Cloud over 2000-metres in November of 2010.
This time Prairie Star has had three runs including successive placings over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200-metres.
Boasting plenty of stamina, strength and grit their new connections believe Prairie Star will make an excellent 2012 Caulfield Cup contender down under.
Formerly prepared by Elli Lellouche Prairie Star was transferred to fellow French horseman John Hammond following the OTI purchase.
While they campaign down under this season they will either stay under Hammond’s preparation or join Danny O’Brien’s Flemington stables.
“We’ll give the horse a run towards the end of this month, or early in August, and then Danny and Simon (O’Donnell) and I will sit down and decide whether it’s best to leave him in John Hammond’s hands to bring out, if John wants to do that, or whether to relocate him to Danny straight away,” Henderson said.
OTI could also be represented in this year’s Caulfield Cup field with another Northern Hemisphere hopeful recently secured by the venture, Quest For Peace.
The Luca Cumani-trained Galileo stallion boasts three wins from their eight starts so far, their most recent turf triumph being in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes (2414m) at Ascot in October last year.
They were last seen running a distant 10th when beaten 36 lengths by Sea Moon in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) also at Ascot, a race that features last year’s winning Melbourne Cup quinella of Dunaden and Red Cadeaux who ran two-three.
Originally Quest For Peace was being set for the iconic Arc de Triomphe in Paris but after their recent disappointment there is a chance they will join Prairie Star in Melbourne.
“Quest For Peace was a horse that we thought might have been Arc material, but he doesn’t look as if he’s going to, but he too is a very good mile-and-a-half horse,” Henderson said.
“We’ve pretty much scuttled Arc plans and the Cumani camp will probably have their eye on the Caulfield Cup with him.”
And don’t think OTI aren’t also eyeing off the richest race on the spring program, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November either.
A possible Melbourne Cup 2012 hope for them is German galloper Ibicenco, the Shirocco four-year-old – also prepared by Cumani, last seen running second to Opinion Poll in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes (3300m) in Britain in late May.
“He’s definitely a two-miler,” Henderson said.
“We don’t know where the lead-up run might be for him, but he ran second to Opinion Poll, who only just got beaten in the Gold Cup at Ascot, so we know he’s in very good form.”
Already Ibicenco is making a splash in the Melbourne Cup betting markets paying $34 through bookmaker.com.au.
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