Prolific racehorse owner Gerry Harvey has ruled out the Melbourne Cup for his Australian Oaks winner Royal Descent but believes her capable of a shot at the iconic 2013 Caulfield Cup – Cox Plate double this spring.
The Chris Waller-trained Redoute’s Choice mare is gearing up for her four-year-old debut this weekend at Warwick Farm jumping favourite in the $125,000 Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m).
It will be her first run since capping off a sensational autumn campaign with a massive 10 length romp in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) on a Heavy (10) track at Randwick.
Since then she’s had two Sydney trials most recently running a close third over 900m at Rosehill on August 5.
Harvey, of Harvey Norman fame, has owned and raced hundreds of champion thoroughbreds over the years but he sees something special in Royal Descent and believes she could turn out to be the best horse he’s ever had.
“Potentially she is the best horse I’ve ever had,” he told the Herald Sun this week.
Despite showing a lovely potential to stay with her Oaks triumph, Harvey won’t be testing her over the two miles of the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
She will however still be tested in the majors this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival having been nominated for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19 and the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley the following weekend.
“We’re only taking it one race at a time, but ideally I’d love to see her reach the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate,” Harvey, who in recent years has enjoyed Group 1 success with Aloha and Mrs Onassis, said.
“At this stage the Melbourne Cup isn’t in my head.
“I don’t know how good Royal Descent is at this stage.
“This will only be her second preparation, and you can only hope she makes enough improvement to be a superstar horse. We’ll find that out in the next two or three runs.”
A $2.10 shortie for her first-up run on Saturday, Royal Descent currently pays $15 as the equal third favourite in Caulfield Cup betting and is rated a $31 chance for the Cox Plate 2013.
It won’t be as easy an assignment as the odds suggest in the Toy Show however with Royal Descent to carry the 59kg top weight from the outside barrier (10 of 10) when taking on the likes of the Gai Waterhouse-trained No Looking Back and last start winning stablemate Hidden Kisses.
Also working against her are the history books with no resuming Oaks winner in the past quarter of a century winning their first-up assignment.
Waller too is keen to see just how good Royal Descent has come through her break and whether she is more than just a star three-year-old.
“I’m still getting over how she won the Oaks so easily,” Waller said.
“Whether it was a combination of her being good and all the others having an off day, I don’t know. It was also an extreme track that day. We will soon find out this preparation.
“I know she could potentially be a very, very good horse, but she’s still got a long way to go.
“She’s laidback and very versatile, and for that reason she can be competitive over these shorter trips. I think she can win Saturday, but she’s not wound up.”