West Africa Trials for Spring Mile Assignment

This Saturday at Flemington local horseman Mark Kavanagh will give lightly raced colt West Africa just their third career start as he looks towards a possible step up to a mile in bigger races this coming spring.

Mark Kavanagh

Mark Kavanagh could step West Africa up to a mile during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Photo: Taron Clarke.

The Henrythenavigator three-year-old has had just two starts to date.

A blistering nine length win on debut at Kilmore in November was followed by a more modest fourth over 1000m at Moonee Valley in a Benchmark 70 on December 20.

After jumping the odds-on $1.40 favourite in their second run, West Africa’s loss was credited to them jarring up so they were sent to the paddock to recover.

West Africa now kicks off in 2014 this weekend stepping up in class for the $80,000 2014 A.R. Creswick Series Heat 3 (1000m).

Despite not having had a run at the track or had a start in six months, West Africa is clear favourite in the Ladbrokes.com.au markets for Flemington Race 7 on Saturday paying $2.80.

They’ll be ridden by ace hoop Glen Boss who has a full book of rides at the meeting, to duo coming up trumps with barrier one for the sprint showdown where Kavanagh predicts they’ll be ridden with cover.

“Without getting too involved in tactics, there aren’t many horses that have led over 1000m down the straight at Flemington of late and have won a race,” the Melbourne Cup winning trainer told Racing Victoria.

Kavanagh is hoping for a good resuming run here in a light prep that they will be sent to the paddock after to freshen-up ahead of a hopeful assault on the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.

“He was certainly impressive at his first start and he does enjoy rain-affected going so I’m just hoping to take him through his grades before tipping him out for a spell,” Kavanagh said.

“He’s mentally matured since his first preparation and he’s physically a much tougher looking horse.”

Kavanagh will take it on a race-by-race basis with West Africa but believes the youngster will prove themselves capable of some tougher assignments.

“I think he’s a horse going somewhere but in saying that, he’s a gross sort of colt and being winter time often the horses that have had a race or two can just beat you over that last little bit,” he said.

He’s also confident West Africa will stretch out over more distance, possibly even a mile bringing them into the mix for some major races such as the $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 11.

“I think ultimately the horse is probably a miler and he may have been looking for a bit longer at his second start,” he said.

Other notable hopes racing in Saturday’s A.R. Crewswick Series Heat 3 include Peter Moody’s last start Sandown winner Il Cavallo ($6.50), the horse that beat West Africa home back in December Maroon Bay ($7) and Kraftwerk ($7.50).

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