Caulfield trainer Robert Smerdon says he isn’t considering a 2013 Toorak Handicap assignment for new stable acquisition, the lightly-raced youngster Ossenhagen, despite the hype surrounding their Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
A rising Ad Valorem four-year-old, Ossenhagen has had just four starts to date for a duo of wins, one third and a fourth on debut at Benalla back in February.
Their quartet of runs were all under the preparation of previous trainer John Sadler from Malua Racing.
The gelding broke their maiden status at run number three on the Geelong Synthetic track in mid-May when beating home Platinum Panther in a 1200m handicap by an impressive six lengths.
They backed-up from that gong to Bendigo 15 days later and posted another easy win.
Stepping up to the 1400m for the first time Ossenhagen handled the extra distance no dramas and were able to overcome a double digit barrier (11) with Ben Melham guiding them to a smart four and a half length victory over Batman.
Smerdon announced he would be the new trainer of Ossenhagen on Tuesday morning, unsure of why connections opted to send the horse to him.
Originally they looked bound for a career overseas with owners accepting a juicy Hong Kong offer.
After Ossenhagen failed a vet check however the sale fell through leading to their new spring goals.
After their impressive country wins Ossenhagen was named a potential candidate for the $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday October 12 – Caulfield Guineas Day.
While Smerdon is hoping the horse continues to progress through the ranks and is competitive when they go into black type company under his care, he knows that the Group 1 clashes they were being spruiked for will likely come too early.
“They’d be way too early for him and he’s got step up a long way before he gets to that level,” he said of the Toorak and also the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
“He’s got a couple of impressive provincial wins, but whether he stretches out to that (Toorak) distance we don’t know.”
Smerdon had planned to debut them in the big city at Moonee Valley on June 15, however they had to be withdrawn due to a minor laceration.
“It was only a minor injury, superficial, but we’ve still got to get the all clear,” Smerdon said.
“As soon as we get that we’ll start working him.
“It’s right on a moving part and to put any stress on it at the moment would just keep stirring it up, so we’ve got to make sure that’s 100 percent before we kick off with him.”
Exactly where and what they will target though is yet to be decided.
“He’s been winning over the short trips, he might be just a sprinter, so we’ve got a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we start talking about what races we’ll target,” he said.
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