John Sadler’s imported spring cups hopefuls Winchester is gearing up for their debut down under this weekend after the stallion was given a searching gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday morning.
Formerly prepared in America by Christophe Clemet, Theatrical stallion Winchester joined Sadler’s Flemington stables earlier this year having had 22 starts overseas for six wins – the most recent of which was in the Grade 1 Saratoga Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (2412m) in August last year which took their Group 1 tally up to four.
They had their first major piece of work in front of the public eye this morning in Melbourne showing off their big stride over 1400m on the course proper at Caulfield when ridden by Jamie Mott, their performance impressing stable rep Troy Corstens.
“I am really happy with him,” Corstens said of the horse that ran this morning’s final 400m in a smart 24.88 seconds.
“The last bit of work was his best. He has a beautiful action.”
Considered a strong chance for next month’s $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) in Melbourne on October 20, Winchester will resume racing off a lengthy break on Saturday with connections leaning towards the Underwood Stakes for their first-up assignment.
The eight-year-old is nominated for the $200,000 Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick in Sydney as well as two Caulfield features – the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and the $150,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) both of which offer a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption to the winner.
“It is a tough assignment in the Underwood Stakes at weight-for-age and over only 1800-metres, but if he run past a few in the straight we will be happy,” Corstens said.
In the latest Caulfield Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au Winchester is a $71 roughie, a price that is sure to firm if they pull out a good run on the weekend.
Sadler is also hoping the horse will go through the grades this season and develop into a chance for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 6.
“I can’t wait to see him over two miles (for the Melbourne Cup),” Corstens said.
“He will run in the Caulfield Cup on the way through because he is qualified.
“He is right where we want him at the moment on his way to the Melbourne Cup.”
Winchester is much shorter in the Melbourne Cup odds paying $26.
Melbourne Cup weights were released by Racing Victoria today with the past two winners in Dunaden (2011) and Americain (2010) topping the handicaps at 58kg each.
Winchester meanwhile has been allocated 55kg along with the likes of last year’s runner-up Red Cadeaux, one time Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw, and 2007 Melbourne Cup champ Efficient.
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