2013 Canberra Cup Campaign Starts for Asclepius

This afternoon Len Hodgson’s Reset four-year-old Asclepius will resume racing kicking off a campaign their trainer hopes will culminate with a run in the Canberra Cup 2013 in March.

Last seen winning their fourth career race from 15 starts on November 6, Melbourne Cup Day in Victoria, Asclepius will race for the first time since in the fifth at their home track today running in the $15,000 Myer Fashions of the Field Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m).

“I’m pretty happy with him, he’s done everything right since he’s come back and I’m looking for him to run a pretty strong race,” Hodgson said.

“He’s in pretty good order, he put on as much condition as we would have liked to see and I’m pretty happy with him I’ve got him in pretty good order.

“I think he’ll give it a real good shake, with any luck I think he can win but I haven’t had a lot of luck with him so I am a bit gun – shy.”

While the middle distance galloper tends to prefer a little more ground, Hodgson is confident the 1200m today will be right for a first-up run to get some running in their legs.

“Although we think he’s a bit more of a stayer then a sprinter he did run well first up at Canterbury last preparation over 1200m,” Hodgson said.

The only concern then is their inside alley, Asclepius set to jump from barrier one (of 10) with apprentice hoop Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins to ride giving them weight relief down to 55kg (from 59.5kg).

“The rails draw is my only real concern heading into the race, I would have preferred him to have drawn a bit further out that way so he could have a look at them all.

“I’d like him to have as cushy a run as possible and just get him out at the business end when they straighten and hopefully he’ll hit the line strongly.

“As long as he is hitting the line nicely on Friday I’ll be happy it’s not really do or die for us whatever he does we should be able to build nicely on.”

With winning form up to a mile Asclepius, who also has plenty of race experience in Sydney, will be stepped up through the grades this time in with Hodgson eyeing off the $200,000 Listed Canberra Cup (2000m) on March 3 for their big run of the autumn.

Asclepius was considered for the Canberra Cup last year after a number of good summer runs but failed to make the cut in there three-year-old season, Hodgson hoping that the maturity of another year will help his stable ace get there this time fourth-up.

“We are still looking to aim him at the Canberra Cup this time in, so we are going to give him four runs this preparation, first up over 1200m then 1400 then up to the mile and if all is going well we would like to step him out in the Cup if he is up to it,” Hodgson said.

“It’s a bit of a long shot as we had aimed him at the Canberra Cup last preparation but he just didn’t go as well as we had liked but in saying that in a lot of his races he didn’t have much luck and we did have a few problems with his racing manners.”

They have run over the 2000m once before when seventh, beaten 4.5 lengths, by Kukri when Corey Brown rode them in a Benchmark 68 at Kembla Grange last October but their trainer still needs to be convinced they can get the distance.

“We realise that the Cup is a still a bit of a long-shot, I’m not truly convinced that he is a genuine 2000m horse either, he might be better over a mile so we’ll just have to wait and see with him,” he said.

If they do make it right through to the 2013 Canberra Cup field it will also be the first black type assignment for Asclepius since their fifth to the Anthony Cummings-trained She Goes To Rio in the 2011 Canberra Guineas as a three-year-old.

Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the Canberra Cup racing and betting updates as race day draws nearer.

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