Last year’s beaten Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw returns to the track after eleven months on the sidelines this Saturday in the Makybe Diva Stakes and trainer Mark Kavanagh is hoping for a good show from the untapped stayer.
The imported Medecis gelding was one of the most consistent performers in Kavanagh’s Flemington stables late last year winning five of their opening six starts with their new Australian trainer, the horse previously prepared in England by William Knight.
Their biggest turf triumphs came in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m), which earned them a ballot free ride into that year’s Caulfield Cup, and a narrow victory over fellow spruik import Glass Harmonium in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
They went into the Caulfield Cup as the punters’ pick based on their ideal lead-up form but broke down during the mile and a half classic finishing 18th of 18 25 lengths behind the winner Southern Speed.
Kavanagh has taken his time getting December Draw back to race fitness and after nearly a year of hard work on the sidelines the now seven-year-old will resume in the $300,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) on the weekend.
It is shaping up as a very strong edition of the Makybe Diva this year with the markets led by Peter Moody’s triple Group 1 autumn winning champ Manighar ($3.30) and reigning Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed ($3.40).
A little further down the Makybe Diva Stakes betting markets punters can find December Draw who pays $8 to win their highly publicised return.
Drawn in gate two with their regular rider from last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Michael Rodd reuniting with them, December Draw has a lot to prove on Saturday as they head towards the season’s majors including a second shot at the $2.65 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 20.
Kavanagh is keeping his confidence and expectations in check for December Draw this spring however after suffering an earlier blow with the loss of his undefeated filly Atlantic Jewel, the one-time Cox Plate favourite out for the season.
“Confidence has been dented a lot in the last few weeks about everything,” Kavanagh said.
“So we’re just sitting back and waiting for him to tell us he’s back. Certainly on Saturday we’re going to get a good look at him, and we’ll get a guide from there, but we’re not going to jump the gun before then.
“It’s nearly a year since he raced, he suffered a broken bone in his leg in the Caulfield Cup, but he looks to be over that and he’s in pretty good order right now.
“He’s probably going strip about 45 kilos heavier than what he was in the Caulfield Cup.
“He’s a bit bigger, he’s a bit stronger and he’ll look great, but he might need the run.
“He has got a good 1600 record and he has got a good Flemington record, but we’ll be tickled if he goes well on Saturday because there’s a lot of improvement in him.”
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