This Saturday Dean Lawson’s untapped four-year-old Mr Chard will kick off their spring preparations in the Bletchingly Stakes which if all goes to plan this time could turn into a 2012 Cox Plate bid.
The Al Samer stallion has raced just 14 times to date for a trio of turf triumphs, two of which came back-to-back at Caulfield and then Flemington during the 2010 Melbourne Sprint Racing Carnival.
After saluting on a Heavy (10) track to beat home Skilled in the Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m) they went on to win the Group 3 Inglis Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
They resumed in last year’s Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, a three run campaign finishing up with a credible fourth to Shamrocker in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
Following the Guineas Mr Chard spent a year on the sidelines due to a suspensory ligament injury and was forced to miss the entire spring.
Lawson was originally eyeing Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the Cox Plate, with the then three-year-old but had to abandon the dream.
“I always thought as an autumn three-year-old that he probably should have nearly won the Australian Guineas and then the Cox Plate would have been the aim in the spring,” Lawson admitted.
He hasn’t forgotten it however and the Flemington-based horseman is hopeful the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), running this year at Moonee Valley on Saturday October 27, can be on the agenda again for Mr Chard.
The horse was last seen running a first-up 12th when beaten five lengths by Hay List in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10.
“There’s a lot of options and basically we want to just get over the first hurdle and then map out a path,” Lawson said.
“Obviously the Cox Plate would be the main goal, along with 40 other horses, and I’d like to think the horse is good enough to be running in that race.
“I don’t think he’s lost any ability, it’s just that he’s got a leg now that has had an injury.”
Rested again after that effort they hit Caulfield this Saturday in the $125,000 Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) where their possible rivals including resuming champ Heart Of Dreams, Green Birdie who races for the second time back in Oz after a lengthy stint in Hong Kong, and Darren Weir’s flying Strategic filly Platelet out for her fourth win on the trot and third straight at Caulfield.
“The original plan in the autumn was to just run him in the Newmarket to test his leg and then put him away for the spring,” Lawson said.
“But he pulled up so well that we thought about giving him another couple of starts.
“A couple of days before he was going to run again he must have got cast in his box and was lame across his hind quarter so we had to put him in the paddock, which was the original plan anyway.”
The 2012 Bletchingly Stakes final field is due out shortly and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
Cox Plate 2012 nominations meanwhile will be taken on Tuesday August 7.
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