Winter Challenge Fancy Aimed at The Metropolitan 2014

Gai Waterhouse’s exciting mare Queenstown faces a distance test of a different kind in this weekend’s Winter Challenge at Rosehill ahead of her spring campaign that will include a run back up over 2400m in the 2014 The Metropolitan.

Queenstown (inside)

Winter Challenge favourite Queenstown (inside) targets the 2014 The Metropolitan this spring. Photo: Race Horse Photos Australia.

The Stratum four-year-old blitzed her rivals in the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) third-up last start, but stable rep Mark Newnham is confident she can handle a drop down to 1500m this Saturday.

“She is well enough to sprint really well,” he told AAP.

She goes to Rosehill Gardens in the opening stakes race of the new season, the $100,000 Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) facing seven rivals and jumping from barrier seven with Tim Clark aboard.

Despite coming off a win over 850m further, have Queenstown installed as the easing $3.90 favourite to win in their Winter Challenge odds.

She’s got winning form over 1400m but not since March last year.

Queenstown then needs to pull out all the stops on Saturday to match the zip of her sprinter-miler rivals including Winter Stakes graduates Scream Machine ($4) and Romantic Moon ($5) who third and second respectively after wins at the track and distance.

Newnham believes that won’t be an issue and is happy to take the short price being offered for her to go back-to-back before being freshened-up for her Sydney Spring Racing Carnival return.

“She never runs badly. She is one of those mares who runs well in whatever you put her in,” he said.

To help her get to the line in the right sort of time to win on Saturday Newnham confirmed they would be putting the blinkers on and that she had come through the Grafton Cup well.

“She has had a fairly easy time of it and she has freshened up to run well,” he said.

Plans are to target the $175,000 Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) in September followed by her first Group 1 assignment of the new season in the $400,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 4.

From there she could progress onto Melbourne for a shot at the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) running on October 25 for which she’s an $81 roughie to win through

“She hasn’t had a lot of racing and hopefully the best is yet to come,” Newnham said.

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