Despite having been nominated for the Randwick Guineas in Sydney on Saturday, Wendy Kelly’s Australian Derby 2014-bound colt Late Charge will instead run in the $220,000 Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) under the lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
The Cranbourne-based Hard Spun three-year-old is a dual nominee across two states for the weekend but will be accepted for the 2014 Alister Clark Stakes in Melbourne.
They were also in the mix for a shot at the $600,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) but Kelly is hoping the extra distance at Moonee Valley will well suit the promising young stayer.
“We gave some consideration to the Randwick Guineas but the Alister Clark, although it’s still very strong, looks not quite as strong as the Guineas,” Kelly told AAP.
“And over 1600 metres they just tend to run along a bit quick for him.”
Their major aim this autumn is the prestigious $2 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12, Friday’s race a test to see whether the mile and a half is a viable option for them this time in.
“We’d like to see him over 2000 metres and if he handles it really well we’ll give strong consideration to heading up for the Derby,” Kelly said.
A winner of two of their seven starts to date, Late Charge ran in a Group 1 during the spring at Caulfield.
Formerly prepared by Patrick Payne, they could only manage to run a distant ninth behind the Peter Snowden-trained Long John in the Caulfield Guineas racing very greenly.
Spelled for the next four months they returned on February eighth, over-racing but eventually running a credible third to Thunder Fantasy in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) first-up.
They did a few things wrong again in their latest start when running ninth to Shamus Award from a wide gate (12 of 14) in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 1, but were defeated only three lengths.
Kelly then is hoping that going up to the 2040m on Friday evening will be the right move for Late Charge who is currently a $41 outsider in the pre-post Australian Derby betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“It’s always hard when you don’t win races, but I was really happy with his run,” she said of the Australian Guineas run.
“He was second-up in a tough, strongly run mile and was three-wide with no cover which was no fault of Vlad or the horse’s but it was just the way it worked out.
“He over-raced at a couple of points so to the horse’s credit, I thought getting beaten only 2.8 lengths was a really good effort.”
Those futures Australian Derby odds are led by Puccini at $5.50, Peter McKay’s New Zealand raider having won their last three on the trot back home including the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 1.
Other notable Alister Clark Stakes hopes that could be in the final field due out later this morning then include the Chris Waller-trained Group 2 Autumn Classic winner Vilanova, lightly-raced Sebring filly Scratchy Bottom, Damien Oliver’s mount Pheidon for Gai Waterhouse and Cadillac Mountain to be ridden by Cox Plate winning hoop Chad Schofield who is in flying form again this season.
Surge Ahead (6th) and Bardem (12th) meanwhile are the two other Australian Guineas runners backing up in the Alister Clark this weekend.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the weekend’s race fields to be published throughout the day.
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