Flemington Kick-Off for 2013 Cox Plate Hope Ferlax

Jim Conlan’s Australian Guineas winner Ferlax makes their four-year-old debut at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday as they head towards a shot at the Cox Plate 2013 this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.


Australian Guineas winner Ferlax kicks off in the Aurie's Star Handicap 2013 this Saturday. Photo: Sarah Ebbett.

The talented Pentire stallion is one of 11 gallopers engaged in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) this weekend, Ferlax drawn nicely in gate two with Stephen Baster to ride.

Baster was aboard the Mornington-based champ for their career best run back in March, Ferlax posting their fourth win from as many starts when beating home You’re So Good to win the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.

That was their first trip to the big city and proved to Conlan he had a good horse on his hands.

Ferlax didn’t handle the opposite way of going a fortnight later however when racing over the same distance in Sydney suffering their first defeat.

They were beaten eight lengths by star Kiwi It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) when seventh before being turned out for a spell.

It’s now back to Flemington and hopefully back to the winner’s stall with Conlan kicking off their spring campaign in the Aurie’s Star.

Their main aim this time in is the same as the Murray Baker-trained It’s A Dundeel, the duo both heading towards the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26.

While four-time winner It’s A Dundeel is the early $5 fancy to take out the Cox Plate trophy, Ferlax is much further down the markets at a quote of $41.

Conlan will only continue down the Cox Plate path with Ferlax should they show they were up to the challenge early in their prep, starting with the Aurie’s Star.

“He’s probably going into it maybe not as forward as I would have liked, but a lot of horses might be in the same boat with trials being called off,” Conlan told AAP.

“He’s going to take benefit from this race going forward.

“I would say by about his third run we’ll know if we’re heading in the right direction.”

That third run would likely be in the $300,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) t Moonee Valley on September 14, with Ferlax likely to run second-up in the $350,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31.

“By that stage we should know whether he’s a Cox Plate horse or maybe whether we head to a Toorak Handicap or Epsom Handicap,” Conlan said.

“Whether he’s up to that I really don’t know, but I do like him.

“He gives you a great feel as a racehorse and he’s got a great attitude, so hopefully he measures up.”

The $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) runs on Caulfield Guineas Day, October 12, while the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) is part of the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival at Royal Randwick on October 5.

“It’s hard to draw a line through the Australian Guineas form, that form probably didn’t stack up to the Sydney form,” Conlan added.

“We’ll see how he goes this time.”

Among their rivals in the Aurie’s Star this weekend meanwhile are 2011 winner Temple Of Boom, dual Group 1 Perth hero Luckygray and the in-form Adelaide visitor Riziz after their third win down the Flemington straight.

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