Ace hoop Craig Williams is even more excited about the first-up chances of resuming mare Commanding Jewel this weekend after partnering with the 2013 Cox Plate-bound champ in a Tuesday morning hitout in Melbourne.
The Leon Corstens-trained daughter of Commands is set to make her four-year-old debut on Saturday at Moonee Valley in the $120,000 Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) racing for the first time since her emphatic three length win in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) last October.
Having overcome the injuries that ruled her out of an autumn prep, Commanding Jewel proved she was fit and ready to return with her smart hitout at the Moonee Valley track over 800m this morning.
In the jumpout Commanding Jewel, raced without the blinkers she will don in the Carylon, was ridden by Williams who replaces the suspended Damien Oliver in the saddle on Saturday.
Williams was full of praise for the Group 1 winner after riding her in the solid piece of work which she completed in 50.5 seconds including a final 400m time of 23.9 seconds.
“Leon asked me to give her a really good half-mile gallop and she really solid inside the last 600,” Williams told Racing Victoria.
“She pulled up she had a nice blow. That will really put her in good stead for Saturday’s 1000-metre race.
“She’s a lovely horse to ride, she felt really smooth this morning and it was good to get a feel of her.”
While pleased with her chances this weekend, Williams won’t be staying on Commanding Jewel throughout her entire spring prep once Oliver is back.
He has however been booked for her second-up run in the $220,000 Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 7.
Her campaign is targeted around a shot at Australasia’s weight-for-age championship with the $3 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) to run at Moonee Valley on Saturday October 26.
Corstens may have harboured doubts over her ability to last the mile leading up to her Guineas win last season, but her now believes 2040m of the Cox Plate isn’t out of her reach.
“Even though she was won the 1000 Guineas, I thought she was probably too brilliant to,” he said.
“But she seems to have great a mannerism to say that she would be able to relax if they wanted to get out to a distance.”
Not having raced in so long, and with so many more experienced weight-for-age stars in the mix, Commanding Jewel is only rated a $41 outsider in the latest Cox Plate odds.
Markets meanwhile are led by 2011 Thousand Guineas winner Atlantic Jewel, a three-quarter sister to Commanding Jewel, who is equal $6.50 favourite along with crack Kiwi galloper It’s A Dundeel and Melbourne Cup top fancy Puissance De Lune who’ll likely run in the Cox Plate leading up to their run in the ‘race that stops a nation’ in November.
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