After producing the run of the race in the Australian Guineas last start, this Friday night Peter Gelagotis’ progressive three-year-old Hvasstan will look to atone in their latest 2013 Australian Derby lead-up in the $220,000 Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
The Fastnet Rock colt, winner of the Group 3 Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield last spring, caught the eye second-up at Flemington on March 2 coming from last in the big 15-horse Group 1 Australian Guineas field to run a brave fourth behind the winner Ferlax.
“All I wanted to see in his first two runs was a sign that he’d come back after the spring,” Gelagotis said.
“His first run was OK (when eighth in the Autumn Stakes) but his last run was just what we wanted to see.”
This Saturday they face just six rivals and will step up from the mile to a more suitable 2000m giving them every chance of Alister Clark Stakes glory after Gelagotis opted to keep them in Melbourne instead of heading to Sydney for the $500,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Warwick Farm.
“We’ll be up there in Sydney in a couple of weeks giving them all a good look at us,” Gelagotis explained.
“But at this stage this is the race that suits us best.
“The distance is right, the timing is right and our horse is right.
“It’s a better progression to the Rosehill Guineas, and then to the Derby.”
The $500,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) runs on March 30.
Among their more notable rivals are the Michael Kent-trained Philippi, Australian Guineas third placed Sheer Talent who won the CS Hayes the start before and David Hayes’ improving Flying Spur filly Green Roller.
While a win under the lights this weekend would be nice, their trainer Gelagotis is eyeing a far more lucrative prize with Hvasstan heading towards $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 13.
“We know he will stay and we know he’s going well, so really we couldn’t be much happier,” Gelagotis said.
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