A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Ed Walker is keen to taste Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival success again this season, the British trainer planning to bring Glorious Protector down under for a shot at the Lexus Stakes 2014 that he won last year with Ruscello.
Now prepared in Melbourne by Robert Smerdon, Cape Cross gelding Ruscello had a three run campaign in Australia last spring including their narrow victory in the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
That Flemington feature on Victoria Derby Day saw them sneak into the field for the world’s richest handicap, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) back at the track just three days later.
On the short back-up in their first run over two miles up against the world’s best Ruscello jumped a 50-1 outsider and raced no better than their odds suggested.
By the end there were 57 lengths separating them and the Gai Waterhouse-trained winner Fiorente with Ruscello second last in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
While unsure whether his latest staying prospect Glorious Prospect will go all the way to the first Tuesday of November, the Newmarket-based Walker will give them a chance to emulate their former stablemate in the Lexus Stakes the Saturday before.
“Long-term he’s the type to go to Australia for the Lexus Stakes that we won with Ruscello last year,” Walker said. “He’s got plenty of pace.”
The Azamour gelding has won two of their nine starts to date, the four-year-old most recently running away with a seven length victory over 2414m at their home track on July 12.
Before that they tailed off and ran dead last over the same distance at Ascot in a run Walker has already forgiven and forgotten after their brave last start victory carrying a hefty 63.5kg with William Buick aboard.
While yet to be tested in black-type company Walker believes Glorious Protector can handle a tougher field when he backs them up in either the Ebor Handicap at York next month or in America for the lucrative St Leger Stakes at Arlington Park next start.
“It will either be the Ebor or the American St Leger for him and he’ll be kept in both,” Walker said.
“Going to America is tempting given he bled at Ascot (before his win) as he could run on Lasix which almost eliminates that possibility. Clearly he didn’t bleed at Newmarket, though.”
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