Trainer Natalie McCall has revealed that Stradbroke Handicap winner River Lad will set for the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
River Lad was sent straight to the spelling paddock after his upset win in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and has now returned to pre-training at Washpool Lodge to begin preparations for his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
McCall told News Limited that River Lad would not return to the races until the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 4 and will be set to peak third-up, just like he did in the Stradbroke Handicap, in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 8.
“Originally I thought the Sir Rupert Clarke would be the perfect race for him, but it would have meant he only got a very short break,” McCall said.
“Instead, we are aiming to have him at his peak for the Emirates Stakes on the last day of Cup week.
“I’ve learnt the best plan is to have them peaking for one race and that looks the logical one.
“He’s won over 1600m earlier in his career and if you’re strong enough to win a Stradbroke, it generally means you can get a mile.”
River Lad had just five race starts during the 2013/2014 racing season, but there is no debating whether the year was the most successful of the Top Echelon’s racing career to date.
The rising seven-year-old returned to the races for the first time since July with a narrow win in the Sita Australian Handicap (1200m) at Doomben on January 18 and was most impressive when second behind Appearance in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 8.
River Lad started his 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival with a slightly disappointing performance in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on April 26, but he returned to his best form in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 17 before claiming the biggest win of his career to date in the Stradbroke Handicap.
McCall may give River Lad a couple of opportunities to add another Group 1 victory to his racing resume; with the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 22 another potential target for the tough gelding.
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