Mornington-based horseman Jim Conlan is planning a two-horse assault on this year’s Australasian weight-for-age championship with his Australian Guineas winner Ferlax and Group 1 performer Rekindled Interest both on track for a shot at the 2013 Cox Plate this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
While Pentire colt Ferlax is yet to be added to the ante-post betting markets for the $3 million Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m), running at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 26, Redoute’s Choice five-year-old Rekindled Interest is rated a $41 chance with betting led by talented Kiwi galloper It’s A Dundeel at $4.20.
Rekindled Interest has contested the past two editions of the Cox Plate and Conlan is hoping it can be third time lucky for the always honest galloper.
A winner of just three of their 20 starts to date their first shot at the Moonee Valley classic was an excellent third behind the ill-fated Pinker Pinker in the 2011 Cox Plate where, after striking interference near the turn, did well to get back into the clear and finish strongly.
They failed to produce anything similar last year however when dead last to Ocean Park in the most recent Cox Plate finishing over 11 lengths away 14th, Rekindled Interest not having raced since.
“Last spring turned into a bit of a mess, a few things went wrong and in hindsight I shouldn’t have run him in the Cox Plate,” Conlan said.
“He’s had a few soundness issues which we’ve addressed and given him time to get over and he’s going through his paces now without much trouble at all.
“He seems pretty good and happy with himself but it will always depend with track conditions with him as to where and when we run because we’ve got to make sure we still have a horse at the end of each race.”
Young Ferlax meanwhile is only lightly raced with five starts so far which have produced four victories.
Winner of the Group 1 Australian Guineas over the Flemington mile in early March, Ferlax’s only loss was their below par seventh to It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) 14 days after their Group 1 success, a run they were injured during.
“He went out for a spell after the Randwick Guineas where he was galloped on quite badly and was quite sore but he’s fully over that now,” Conlan said.
“I’ve never given him a long spell, I put him out for two weeks and then I brought him back in light work so that he didn’t get too heavy.”
Conlan is hopeful that the spring could belong to a horse like Ferlax with a notable gap in the weight-for-age talent after the recent retirement of the first three over the line in the Cox Plate last year – Ocean Park, All Too Hard and Pierro all embarking on valuable stud careers.
“I think he might be able to step up to the plate and be a really good hose this Spring,” Conlan said.
“He was actually out at Moonee Valley on Tuesday where he just did a light bit of work; he’s actually never been there so I just want to get him used to it.
“He was able to win a Group 1 in his first preparation and he’s now coming into his second campaign and he’s just looking and feeling great, so who’s to say that he won’t measure up to a race like the Cox Plate in the spring?
“He’ll be entered for the Cox Plate but we’ve just got to see how the form measures up out of the Australian Guineas.”
Conlan is now preparing the spring agendas for the duo with both to head towards the Cox Plate, Ferlax likely to go first-up in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 10.
After that Conlan is looking at the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at the end of August which runs as an elite level for the first time this spring.
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