After winning the Australian Guineas in an upset last time out, Jim Conlan’s undefeated colt Ferlax will look to make it a Group 1 autumn double on the weekend tackling the 2013 Randwick Guineas at Sydney’s Warwick Farm Racecourse.
After winning their first three career starts the Pentire three-year-old stepped up to not only black type company but Group 1 company for the first time in the Australian Guineas over the Flemington mile on March 2.
Their relative inexperience saw them start at $16 but in a brave display the Mornington-based galloper was the impressive half length winner beating a smart field.
This Saturday Conlan will step them up in class again for the $500,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) which will be their first assignment in Sydney, something Conlan is confident they can handle being their regular trackwork rider as well as their trainer.
“A lot of what we’re doing with him is trial-and-error,” Conlan said.
“We monitor all the normal things, his blood and things like that.
“But I suppose it’s an advantage that I get a proper feel for how he’s going from riding him in most of his work.
“The way he towed me up the hill when I galloped him at home was something I hadn’t felt in a horse since (2011 Cox Plate third placegetter) Rekindled Interest.”
With no Sydney racing experience and the form of their Australian Guineas win coming into question Ferlax is again an outsider in the betting currently paying $15 in the Randwick Guineas odds.
But Conlan doesn’t think there will be any problems them racing the other way with the horse given plenty of trackwork the Sydney way of going at home.
“It wouldn’t be any tighter than Echuca and Benalla,” Conlan said of the Warwick Farm track which he walked last week.
“And my track at home is right-handed and he does all his work the Sydney way.”
Markets are led by the rails-drawn Rebel Dane ($2.80) who won the Royal Sovereign Stakes first-up before their courageous last start second to boom Lonhro colt Pierro in the Hobartville.
It seems the bookies believe the Hobartville Stakes form, the Group 2 race run over the 1400m at Rosehill on a Heavy (9) on March 2, will stack up on Saturday with the other minor placegetter Proisir and It’s A Dundeel (4th) the next best fancied in Randwick Guineas betting.
Still, Conlan knows his horse and says he is in as good a form, if not better, as when they won the Australian Guineas.
“Everything points to him being at least in the same form as he was at his last start,” he said on Wednesday.
“He’s done a bit of light work and this morning when I rode him he felt as good as he did before Flemington.”
Following Saturday’s race Conlan is looking at taking Ferlax to the $500,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 30.
They will also be nominated for the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 13 but Conlan will need some convincing that the horse could get the mile and a half this prep.
“The (Rosehill) Guineas is a realistic option if he comes through Saturday in good shape, but I doubt that we’ll push on to the Derby,” he said.
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