A horse that is yet to race down under, Markus Nigge’s French raider Trevieres, sits number one on the ballot for the 2013 Toorak Handicap on Caulfield Stakes Day in Melbourne on Saturday.
Of the 22 nominations taken for this year’s $400,000 Group 1 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) it is Gold Away gelding Trevieres sitting number one on the ballot.
The European six-year-old has won three of their past four starts back home, most recently over the mile at Deauville on August 11 carrying 57.5kg, form that could stack up when they run in Australia for the first time here.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy partnered the Kevin and Coleen Bamford-owned horse for a gallop at Werribee this morning and said where they are headed this season and what they are capable of will be better known post-Toorak.
“He drops down to 52(kg) (on Saturday) which sort of attracted me,” McEvoy told The Daily Telegraph.
“He’s been running in big handicaps in France with bigger weights and running well.
“This is a step up to Group company, but this looks a bit of a lightish Group 1 this year, the Toorak.
“He seems to have travelled out well, he looks well so we’re hopeful he can go there and be an each-way chance.
“He’s been running in quality handicaps and running well. This week determines what way he goes.
“There are plenty of races over a mile and there are plenty of races over 2000m, whether it’s in Group 1 company or over a mile back down in grade.
“This is a sort of a search and see type mission and see it unfolds.
“Just looking at the noms, it looks like a race where he could compete well.”
A nice lead-up for milers that could stay on for the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 9 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, this year’s Toorak has drawn some class early entries.
The top-weighted runner with 58kg is the Bruce Wallace-trained former Kiwi King Mufhasa with 58kg.
Winner of the 2011 Toorak Handicap, the now nine-year-old Pentire gelding continues to race with the zest of a horse half their age.
Competitive during the autumn including a third behind All Too Hard in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and runner-up to the now retired Pierro in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill, they were given a shot at overseas success back in May.
King Mufhasa however failed to make an impression in Singapore when dead last, beaten 24 lengths by Dan Excel in the Group 1 The Champions Mile (1600m).
They raced in their native New Zealand first-up off a four and a half month break on September 21 and looked back to their old self though when second to Xanadu in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.
King Mufhasa is one of two former Toorak Handicap winners in the mix this year with the defending champ Solzhenitysn also nominated.
Rob Heathcote’s St Petersburg gelding saluted with only 52kg on their back 12 months ago, the now seven-year-old going up to 55.5kg this year.
Solzhenitsyn’s had two good runs this time in most recently finishing a long neck away third in a blank finish behind Rebel Dane (1st) and Fontelina (2nd) in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 29.
Other highly rated hopefuls above the 52kg minimum then include Stradbroke Handicap winner Linton (55.5kg) coming off a good first-up fifth in the Sir Rupert as a $21 outsider with 58kg, one time Caulfield Cup fancy from a few seasons ago December Draw (54.5kg) and dual Group 1 winning former WA star Luckygray (54.5kg).
Others coming off some nice recent form include the David Hayes-trained improver Bass Strait (52kg), Rupert Clarke fourth placegetter Speediness (53.5kg) and Mouro (52kg) who will be ridden by Glen Boss.
Peter Moody’s Toorak Handicap nominee High Esteem meanwhile will not be racing, the Redoute’s Choice four-year-old saved instead for Sunday week’s $150,000 Listed Seymour Cup (1600m).
See below for the full Toorak Handicap 2013 nominations with the final field and barrier draw due out on Wednesday.
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2013 Toorak Handicap Nominations
Caulfield Racecourse – 12/10/2013
|1||KING MUFHASA (NZ)||Bruce Wallace||4||58kg||115|
|3||SOLZHENITSYN (NZ)||Robert Heathcote||6||55.5kg||110|
|4||DECEMBER DRAW (IRE)||Mark Kavanagh||8||54.5kg||108|
|6||FERLAX (NZ)||Jim Conlan||9||54kg||107|
|9||BASS STRAIT (NZ)||David Hayes||3||52kg||93|
|10||BLACKIE (NZ)||Jarrod McLean||18||52kg||98|
|11||BRITISH GENERAL||Dan O’Sullivan||21||52kg||95|
|12||CENTENNIAL PARK (NZ)||David Payne||15||52kg||100|
|13||DANY THE FOX (NZ)||Mick Price||16||52kg||98|
|14||HIGH ESTEEM||Peter G Moody||2||52kg||94|
|15||LORD OF BRAZIL (NZ)||Darren Weir||13||52kg||102|
|16||LORD WIMBLE||Bill & Symon Wilde||22||52kg||87|
|17||MOURO (USA)||Tony McEvoy||14||52kg||100|
|18||MUTUAL TRUST (GB)||Sam Pritchard-Gordon||17||52kg||98|
|20||TRANSPORTER||John P Thompson||20||52kg||96|
|21||TREVIERES (FR)||Markus Nigge||1||52kg||99|