Chris Waller’s fillies dominate the nominations...
Warrnambool trainer Aaron Purcell will attempt to get his Irish import St Jean into the 2014 Caulfield Cup field this spring via a run in September’s Naturalism Stakes.
Purcell has high hopes with the former Kevin Prendergast-trained Teofilo stallion, the rising five-year-old having had six starts down under during their opening Aussie prep this autumn.
Group 3 performed back in Ireland when fourth to Ernest Hemingway in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes (2414m) at Leopardstown last August, St Jean has for Purcell won three of their Australian starts.
They had just the one stakes assignment in their first campaign but it was a dismal effort on a mud track.
Stepped up in class for a shot at the Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m) at their new home track, the galloper failed on the Heavy (10) course and walked home 60 lengths off the winner Akzar when dead last in the 16-horse race.
On firmer ground 16 days later however they atoned with a two length win at Caulfield over 2000m before their latest effort, a two and a half length victory over the mile and a half (2400m) at Sandown on May 31.
Purcell has tentatively penciled in a Moonee Valley kick off in late August for St Jean this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival who has been back in work for nearly a month.
“He’s back in work, he’s been back in work about three weeks, and he’s back doing some strong work,” Purcell told Racing Victoria.
“He looks terrific it’s pretty wet and cold down here at the moment but he’s coping as well as he can and we’re not making it too hard for him.
“He had three, three-and-a-half weeks off he didn’t have a lot off, being a stallion I was a little bit concerned about him doing too well and it becoming too hard a job to get him fit again.
“If he did too well, I’d be flat out getting him fit again, they can blow up, and stallions generally do pretty well and there hard to get weight off when they get above you.
“He only had a more of a let up I guess, he did really well putting on 20kg to 30kgs in that time, but he does look really good I couldn’t be happier.
“There is a race at Moonee Valley late August, a 1500m Open Handicap that’s sort of the vague kickoff point but it may be a week or two off that I’m not too sure.”
Following that his long-term aim is to run the up-and-coming stayer in the $150,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield Racecourse on September 20.
The Naturalism Stakes winner gets a ballot free ride into the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 and that’s the path Purcell is hoping will open up for St Jean.
“We’ll enter him for the Cups and probably try and get him to the Naturalism and if he can win that he’ll get into the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
“We’ll give him his chances to qualify for the better races and if it doesn’t happen well we’ll look at other options.”
Pre-nomination Caulfield Cup betting markets are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au with ATC Oaks winning filly Rising Romance leading the way at $13.
St Jean is yet to pop up in the odds but if they win early during their preparation is sure to enter calculations for the feature.
Check out the full Caulfield Cup 2014 futures markets, as well as those for the spring’s other upcoming Group 1s, online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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