Set to return from a lengthy injury-enforced injury shortly, Andrew Campbell’s Kiwi colt Cauthen will look to emulate fellow New Zealander Ocean Park with a Cox Plate 2014 victory this spring.
Like the Gary Hennessy-trained Ocean Park two years ago, Cauthen will kick off their campaign at Hastings in at the end of August racing first-up in the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m).
In 2012 Ocean Park took out the Challenge Stakes going on to win their next three Group 1 starts in Australia with the Underwood Stakes, Caulfield Stakes and then the $3 million W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Australasia’s weight-for-age championship on October 25 this year is also on the cards for Cauthen then so long as they perform and come through the Challenge Stakes well.
“His first run over here will be in the Group 1, 1400m race (Challenge Stakes) we won with (Lord) Tavistock, and if he performed well or won, he’d be over in Australia in a flash,” Campbell, 46, told Racing Victoria.
“That’s our yardstick so we’ll see how he goes in that. Obviously he’ll have some jump outs and trials beforehand so we’ll have a fair idea how he is going before that race anyway.”
The lightly-raced Darci Brahma colt has had just the five runs to date for two wins, a successful debut at Te Rapa last July and a Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) victory at Moonee Valley that August.
They also ran in the Listed Henry Bucks Best Dressed Stakes (1400m) at Flemington that campaign but became unbalanced and ran a disappointing 12th, thumps discovered post-race.
After a four and a half month let-up Campbell started them again at Trentham on January 25 for a narrow second.
It was a run they were expected to win but disappointment in the horse was short lived as they pulled up sore and were found to have a stress fracture.
“We were disappointed with his first up run in New Zealand,” Campbell said.
“But 20 minutes after he cooled down we could see why he got beat. He was pretty sore.
“He got a stress fracture in his off-front leg. It happened during the run, which made his performance even better really.
“It shows he’s got such a big heart to run like he did and be just run down on the line.”
The time between now and then has then been spent recovering, Campbell hopeful they can come back and go all the way to the top with a return trip to Victoria this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He’s been to Matamata Vets where he spent about two months up there,” Campbell said.
“They’ve got a new method of improving the healing of a fracture like that up there, so he spent some time there.
“He’s come through it really well and x-rayed up fine, so it’s all systems go with him at the moment.”
They’re now back in work at their trainer’s Opakti stables and doing very well by all reports.
“He looks enormous now,” Campbell said.
“We’re just wrapped with him, over the moon.
“He hasn’t got too big either, being a colt and a great doer we didn’t want him to get too big but he looks fantastic, we’re thrilled.
“These Darci Brahmas aren’t really three-year-olds, they seem to take a bit of time.
“He hasn’t been overtaxed having only had the five runs, so I’m thinking it [the injury] might have been a blessing in the long run.”
Cox Plate betting markets on a likely list of hopefuls are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Carlton House the $9 favourite.
Cauthen is also listed in those futures Cox Plate odds at an all-in price of $41, something that is sure to firm if they kick things off with a Challenge Stakes victory back home.
“I don’t think he’s lost any of his ability,” Campbell added.
“At his first start he beat a very good field, that form really stacks up and he won that by nine lengths.
“He should have won his first start in Melbourne at Moonee Valley, he nearly got put over the fence and then he won his next start well, and beat the two good three-year-olds that went on to win a Cox Plate and a Caulfield Guineas, so I can’t see any reason why his form wont stack up [this spring].
“The owners and I do all our planning together, so we’ll have a good old chat on Saturday, get the books out and see how it goes from there.”
To back them now, or your other early Cox Plate predictions, at their juicy pre-nomination prices visit Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $250 bonus sign-up bet offer!