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Connections of Australian Guineas champ Ferlax have confirmed the miler, disappointing in their spring, will look to bounce back during the Melbourne Festival of Racing with the 2014 Australian Cup their grand final goal.
Jim Conlan’s Pentire stallion was on fire this autumn gone winning three on the trot including the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in their first look at the mile as a $16 outsider.
They travelled to Sydney next start but came undone after an awkward jump and multiple counts of interference to eventually finish eight lengths away seventh to star Kiwi It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m).
They returned as a four-year-old in August and second-up were a brave second behind the since retired champion mare Atlantic Jewel in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m).
Their next two runs were also at elite level at Caulfield but Ferlax failed to feature when seventh to Rebel Dane in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400m and an even worse 12th behind Solzhenitsyn in the Toorak Handicap over the mile.
Their Mornington-based trainer Conlan however hasn’t given up hope and believes they can still be competitive in the autumn.
According to Conlan there were excuses in the Toorak where Ferlax didn’t handle the hard track, jarring up which hampered their performance.
“He actually jarred up mildly in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and he seemed to get over that alright but then he jarred up quite significantly in the Toorak,” Conlan told Racing Victoria this week.
He’s named the $400,000 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on February 8 as an early aim for the galloper, either first or second-up, who is now back in work gearing up for their return.
“He’s in great order at the moment and he looks beautiful,” Conlan said.
“He’s been back in work for a few weeks now and everything is going very smoothly for him.”
If not the CF Orr for their resuming run, Ferlax could be bought back a little earlier for the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on February 25.
“I’ll just have a look at him in his work and gallops and then will decide which race we kick him off in,” he said.
“With the Orr being over the 1400m at Caulfield, under weight for age conditions, it looks a pretty good race for him.
“He did finish second to Atlantic Jewel in the Memsie over the track and distance and the horses behind him that day were all the stars of the spring, so it’s probably the right option to have him pretty well wound-up for that race.”
Conlan went on to say Ferlax would then stick to the weight-for-age features running in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 22 before their major assignment.
That will come at Flemington on March 8 in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Australian Cup (2000m) where they could face the likes of Kingston Town Classic winner Ihtsahymn, German import Pakal and of course Gai Waterhouse’s Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente.
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