Former WA star Luckygray leads a top field of spring sprinters kicking off carnival campaigns in the Aurie’s Star Handicap 2013 down the Flemington straight in Melbourne this Saturday.
Now prepared by Robert Smerdon in Victoria, for whom they debut for on the weekend, the dual Group 1 winning Luckygray will carry the 60kg top-weight when jumping from barrier nine of 11 in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
Perth-bred Mark Zahra has picked up the ride on the Bradbury’s Luck six-year-old who was last seen running fourth to undefeated turf queen Black Caviar in the William Reid Stakes back in March.
“He (Zahra) rode Luckygray in trackwork this morning and in his previous work,” the Group 1 winning jockey’s racing manager Reece Murphy told The West Australian on Wednesday.
“He (Luckygray) is the class runner of the race and you’d expect him to be hitting the line hard.”
Smerdon is confident the 1200m won’t be too short for the middle-distance star first-up and also believes Flemington is the right course to start them off on.
If all goes well on Saturday Smerdon has named the $350,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31 as the next race on Luckygray’s radar before their grand final goal is established.
“There are quite a few options for him,” Smerdon told AAP.
“After the Memsie we will decide a path beyond that. Once we see him in his first couple of runs we’ll have a better idea where he’s best placed.”
Following Luckygray in the Aurie’s Star Handicap field and weights is then the 2011 winner Temple Of Boom.
Drawing the ‘visitor’s gate’ 11, the Tony Gollan-trained Temple Of Boom hasn’t won a race since last year’s The Galaxy but will be looking to return to form this time in.
A seven-year-old son of Piccolo the Brisbane raider was last seen finishing dead last in the BTC Cup back home where the Heavy (9) track didn’t suit and will have 58kg on their back with Craig Williams in the saddle.
The three other Aurie’s Star Handicap hopefuls above the 54kg minimum are then Jim Conlan’s talented Australian Guineas winner Ferlax (56.5kg), Adelaide’s in-form Riziz (55kg) coming off a win in the All Victorian Sprint Final at this track and distance, and the Tony McEvoy-trained Pelicano (54.5kg) who also hails from SA.
See below for the full 2013 Aurie’s Star Handicap field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2013 Aurie’s Star Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Flemington Race 7 – 3:10pm (AEST) – 10/08/2013
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||40x121x84x||LUCKYGRAY||Robert Smerdon||Mark Zahra||9||60kg||110|
|2||x550x7570x||TEMPLE OF BOOM||Tony Gollan||Craig Williams||11||58kg||106|
|3||1x1117x||FERLAX (NZ)||Jim Conlan||Stephen Baster||2||56.5kg||103|
|4||2390×16711||RIZIZ||Ken Sweeney||Chris Symons||3||55kg||100|
|5||x43251118x||PELICANO||Tony McEvoy||Nicholas Hall||10||54.5kg||99|
|6||3232x0x294||ZAMORAR||David Bourne||Glen Boss||4||54kg||97|
|8||456411314x||KEEP COOL (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Damian Lane||8||54kg||94|
|9||5266×45102||DRAW FORWARD||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||6||54kg||86|
|10||20x53213x3||CAVALLO NERO||Nick Harnett||Peter Mertens||5||54kg||76|
|11||217×212591||FALCENT (NZ)||Doug Harrison||Dwayne Dunn||1||54kg||74|