In-form Morphettville trainer Phillip Stokes has no fears about a likely rematch between ace filly Snitzerland and his improving gelding Fire Thunderbolt in the Coolmore Stud Stakes 2012 at Flemington Racecourse on Victoria Derby Day, Saturday November 3.
The previously undefeated California Dane three-year-old Fire Thunderbolt, winner of the Listed Ice Cream Stakes (1000m) at Flemington during the autumn, ran a slashing second behind the Gerald Ryan-trained Snitzerland when defeated just a long neck in the $250,000 Blue Sapphire (1200m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
Snitzerland had the distinct fitness advantage in the race having won three previous Group events in the lead-up while Fire Thunderbolt went into the Blue Sapphire fresh off a seven and a half month spell and made an eye-catching new season debut as a $16 outsider.
After the performance Stokes named the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival as the spring grand final for his young improver, Snitzerland also expected to go to the Coolmore.
The filly may have had their measure last weekend but Stokes is confident that should they continue to progress the way they have, Fire Thunderbolt can turn the tables come Derby Day.
“If Snitzerland is going to be the (Coolmore) favourite we’ve got nothing to fear, with fitness improvement,” Stokes said.
“(Jockey) Craig (Williams) was very positive, given the horse was stirred up behind the barrier, lost a shoe, jarred up a touch and had trouble getting around Caulfield (in the Blue Sapphire).
“I’m looking forward to getting him back down the straight as he walked in last time.”
Nominations for the Coolmore Stud Stakes 2012 will be taken on October 29.
Stokes has enjoyed just one Group 1 victory as a trainer having prepared the ill-fated Marju Snip for her 2006 Australasian Oaks victory in Adelaide.
While he believes Fire Thunderbolt is a strong Group 1 chance next month, Stokes second elite level could come as soon as this Wednesday as he prepares to saddle-up the impeccably bred Maybe Discreet in the $500,000 Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield.
The daughter of Shamardal has won her last two on the trot over the mile firstly taking out the Listed Morphettville Guineas on September 15 before her narrow victory over a field of Thousand Guineas fancies in the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes at Flemington on October 6 – a race that has a strong record of producing Thousand Guineas place-getters and winners.
“She took a couple of days to bounce back (from the Manifold run) but I was really happy with her work on Saturday,” Stokes said.
“She’s been galloping at Caulfield and I think that track suits her better than Flemington.”
Currently Maybe Discreet is the $7.50 second favourite in the Thousand Guineas odds at bookmaker.com.au trailing only fellow Adelaide visitor Molto Bene ($4.40).
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