Melbourne’s Robert Smerdon has set his sights on a Sydney Cup 2014 campaign this coming autumn for his soon-to-return stayer Cooldini.
The Bernardini four-year-old hasn’t raced since early July but is nearing a comeback prep which will see them target the classic Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 26, worth $1 million thanks to a prize money boost this year.
One of the few true Cup races left on the Australian racing calendar being run over the two miles, the Sydney Cup looks an ambitious aim for the gelding who has had just the one run in black type company.
It was a disastrous effort too with Cooldini finishing 10th behind Escado in the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) as a three-year-old last May.
They have however won five of their 13 starts with their longest distanced win being over 2520m at Flemington back in June.
At their latest start they contested the $100,000 Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m) but could only manage to finish six and a half lengths away third behind De Fine Lago and Outback Joe as the beaten odds-on favourite.
They’ve trialed once since when third over 1000m at Pakenham in early December and return to racing this Saturday at Flemington in the $120,000 Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m).
One of 13 gallopers nominated for the 2014 Chester Manifold, Cooldini could face a tough field first-up including the Darren Weir-trained Anlon coming off a win at the track and distance from New Year’s Day, the Peter Moody-trained Christmas Stakes third placed mare Kneeling, Peter Snowden’s Villiers Stakes runner-up Limes and Chris Waller’s 2012 Randwick Guineas second placegetter Said Com.
“He’s capable of running a cheeky race fresh but he’ll be better suited as the races get longer,” Smerdon told AAP.
While 2600m is as far as they’ve been stretched to date, Smerdon is sure Cooldini has what it takes to develop into a genuine two miler this season.
“He gives me every indication that he may well run the distance,” he said.
“He hasn’t raced for six months so he has to work his way up there with a few lead-in runs.”
There’s also a chance Smerdon will give them a shot at a jumps career having given them some teachings in the hurdle world last year.
“He’s qualified as a jumper but his flat form was good enough to pursue a decent staying race,” Smerdon said.
“Some horses mix it up – they can do both – and that’s an option for him.”
Stay tuned to Races.com.au over the coming months for all the latest Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival news including updates on the Sydney Cup.
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