While most of the hype for this Saturday’s 2013 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse is on the autumn return of Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard, another crack hopeful in the Melbourne Festival of Racing’s opening Group 1 race is the undefeated Callanish.
The progressive Fastnet Rock four-year-old boasts an unblemished career record so far having saluted in all eight of their assignments, most recently taking out the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) back in October last year.
That was their first stakes assignment and they handled it with ease overcoming barrier 10 of 10 to take it out.
The bar gets raised this Saturday for the gelding however as they are put to the test against elite level company in the $400,000 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m), a run-in with the Hawkes-trained champion colt All Too Hard on the cards.
Callanish has been to Caulfield once before when in September they posted their biggest turf triumph margin-wise so far, a big four length effort over 1700m where they defeated the likes of Spirit Song (2nd) and Midnight Martini (3rd).
It may be a tough first-up assignment for the up-and-comer but connections are hopeful of a strong effort from Callanish with the 1400m first-up looking ideal after they won first-up over this distance on a Slow (7) at Sandown last February.
Price is confident that Callanish will be right up there in the finish but admits they might not be quite at their peak just yet.
“I’m not sure I haven’t been caught a bit short with him,” Price said.
“Another week might have been good, but his trial today will have brought him on and he’ll run in the Orr on Saturday
“If he doesn’t win it it doesn’t matter, I’m not worried about him getting beaten and keeping his record.”
What Price is concerned about making a successful new season start as they head towards an even bigger autumn assignment – the $1 million Group 1 Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 3.
While All Too Hard is rated the $4.60 second pick behind Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon in the current Australian Cup odds Callanish is found a little further down the markets at a quote of $21.
Following the CF Orr Stakes Callanish is likely to head into the Australian Cup via the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, February 23.
And the back-up plan if he doesn’t develop into a genuine chance for the Australian Cup over the 2000m, the very prestigious $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick in Sydney on April 20.
“I’ve always believed he would be a 2000 metre horse, but if I’m a bit out with his preparation he’s entered for the Doncaster which isn’t a bad alternative,” Price said.
Doncaster Mile odds are also out now at bookmaker.com.au but Callinish is well down the markets at $34.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the CF Orr Stakes news and updates over the week.
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