Connections of young Victorian galloper Hard Stride have them dually nominated for Saturday’s Caulfield meet and are seriously considering accepting the three-year-old into the 2014 Sir John Monash Stakes field.
The Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra-trained Street Sense gelding is in the mix for both the $135,000 Group 3 Polytrack Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) as well as the $80,000 Super Vobis Three-Years-Old Handicap (1400m).
A winner of two of their 15 starts to date, the improving sprinter has run top two in their past four runs in Melbourne and connections are eager to test them in stakes’ company again ahead of the spring.
They’ve had two previous Black Type starts earlier this year, unplaced in both.
The first was on February 1 at Caulfield when they ran sixth to Bull Point in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m), a run they improved on when fourth next start at Flemington behind Anatina in the Listed MSS Security Stakes (1100m).
Last time out they narrowly missed out on a third career win when going down a nose to Kievann in the $100,000 Essendon Nissan Handicap (1200m) at Moonee Valley on June 21.
It is not only Hard Stride’s nice recent form that has co-trainer Zahra looking at the Monash Stakes, but also the good record of three-year-olds in the race over the past 14 years.
Since 2000 five three-year-olds have been successful, the most recent being the Darren Weir-trained Platelet in 2012 who went on to win the following year’s Group 1 Robert Sangster Classic – The Goodwood double in Adelaide.
“The three-year-olds always run well in the race and our horse is hard fit after 10 runs this time in,” Zahra told AAP.
“He won at Caulfield the last time he was there but the 1400 metre race also looks a good option for him.”
If they are stepped up to Group 3 company again for Saturday’s Monash Stakes, they’ll be facing a tough test against some nice types including the Stephen Brown-trained Sea Lord, Group 1 performer Ready To Rip and The Goodwood third placegetter Riziz.
There are also two other three-year-olds among the 16 Monash Stakes nominations this year, the first time the race has held Group 3 status.
The other youngsters looking to outclass their older rivals are Matt Laurie’s Artie Schiller Filly Mezeray Miss who won a Listed 1400m race here in mid-November and the Robbie Laing-trained speedster Lord Of The Sky.
Danerich colt Lord Of The Sky also won their lead-up start having beaten home Elite Elle by one and a half lengths in a 1000m handicap at the track on May 17.
The Sir John Monash Stakes 2014 field will be released on Wednesday, so stay tuned to see if Hard Strike features in it or the easier Caulfield assignment on the weekend.
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