After having been targeted for the race 12 months ago, Conservatorium’s chances of fulfilling the dream of his trainers enjoyed a boost this week when they came up trumps in the 2013 Railway Stakes barrier draw.
The Royal Academy six-year-old, prepared by father-and-son trainers Gary and Lloyd Kennewell, drew barrier 10 in the bumper 16 starter, four emergency field for Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot.
They will come into eight if the four emergencies fail to get a run, a barrier Gary Kennewell describes as perfect.
It’s also one that has produced four Railway Stakes winners in the past 30 years making it the most successful gate in that time.
“If there is good pace going all around him he can sit back off them, or if they are going steady he can go forward and take up the position there – it’s all pace-related,” Kennewell told AAP.
On Railway Stakes Day last Perth Summer Racing Carnival the consistent galloper finished a brave fifth to Barakey in the day’s other major, the $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
From that run on the plan for this November has always been stepping up to the mile for a shot at the lucrative Railway Stakes.
Conservatorium saw the 1600m for the first time this winter at Eagle Farm during their Queensland raid.
Their Brisbane campaign followed a nice two run assault in Adelaide where they finished just half a length second to Platelet in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m).
In the final run of that prep they carried a hefty 60.5kg and were beaten only a long neck by the Rob Heathcote-trained Fire Up Fifi in the Listed Centenary Mercedes Benz Mile (1600m) at Eagle Farm, an encouraging effort for the Railway according to Kennewell.
“We had got to the stage where we thought he probably couldn’t get past 12-to-1400 metres but we tried him in the mile in Brisbane and he was second by half a neck to Fire Up Fifi,” he said.
“He carried 60.5kg that day and that gave us the confidence we could head over here for the Railway.”
They meet Fire Up Fifi again in the Railway Stakes, the mare one of the single figure chances in the markets paying $8.50 to upset the $4.20 favourite Smokin’ Joey.
Conservatorium meanwhile is at a far more generous $15, to carry 56kg with Joe Bowditch staying on.
“He’s never ridden a bad one on him and, hopefully, he doesn’t start on Saturday,” Kennewell said of Bowditch.
It’s a juicy price according to their trainers too especially as the horse beat a number of these rivals home last start with their gritty win in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) on November 9 with 59kg on their back.
“That was the plan – to get here early and try to knock off the (Lee Steere Stakes) that was a bit easier,” Kennewell said.
If all goes well and the horse performs well on Saturday, and pulls up well, they are likely to also target the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) back at the track on December 7.
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