Mark Riley’s promising colt Grande Rosso returns to racing this weekend at Moonee Valley kicking off a Caulfield Guineas 2014 campaign.
The Written Tycoon three-year-old has had two starts to date but remains a maiden having finished out of the money in both their Victorian runs.
Based at Mornington, Grande Rosso will be out to break their maiden status then when they race first-up in the $80,000 Mitchelton Wines Handicap (1000m) on Saturday where they are a $21 outsider at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“We had intended to run him a fortnight ago but he wasn’t 100%,” Riley told RSN’s Racing Ahead this morning.
“Have to kick him off somewhere.”
On debut they were taken straight to black-type company running two and a half lengths away fourth behind Mohave in the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) at Caulfield on January 25.
Their next run was then in the lucrative $250,000 Inglis 2YO Premier (1200m) but after early trouble they couldn’t make up the ground at Mornington on February 12 and could only manage to finish five lengths away fifth behind Gold Force.
Sent to the paddock for a freshen-up after that, Grande Rosso has spelled well and Riley is hoping they prove good enough for their grand final goal this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He’s been in (work) nearly 12 weeks now,” Riley said.
“He looks good the horse.
“He’s just going to keep improving as he goes through and he’s taken really good improvement from his two-year-old starts.”
He’s earmarked them for the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11.
While the class could be a question, Riley has no concerns about the distance and believes the youngster will be at their best as they get up to a mile.
“He’s here for the better spring races,” he said.
“He’ll be at his best when he gets to the mile that’s for sure.
“He’s here for the Guineas campaign and hopefully he’s good enough for that.”
First-up over 1000m then on the weekend, Riley isn’t expecting too much from Grande Rosso who takes on some quality horse stepping out as three-year-olds for the first time including race favourite Boomwaa ($3.90).
Robbie Laing’s Mutawaajid gelding has the 60kg top weight but earned it after a strong juvenile campaign that included a fifth to Earthquake in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
They were last seen running fourth to Zululand in the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 8 and is another 2014 Caulfield Guineas hope paying $61 in the futures markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Other notable hopes in Saturday’s race include the Hawkes-trained Inglis Premier winner Gold Force and the Mick Price-trained Nordic Empire paying $4.80 a piece to win.
Wilander colt Nordic Empire was rated by Price as his best chance on the weekend when the Caulfield horseman spoke on RSN’s Racing Ahead this morning.
“I’m looking forward to him coming back,” he said.
“He’s bigger and stronger than last time in.”
Winner on debut over 1000m at Caulfield last November, their last start produced a third at Canterbury in late December with Damien Oliver aboard for both runs.
Oliver is replaced by Craig Newitt on Saturday with Nordic Empire coming up trumps with the inside alley in the 13-starter field.
“He’ll begin okay (from there) but he doesn’t have to lead then,” Price said speaking race tactics.
“With the rail true they can come from off the speed.”
Nordic Empire injured their hamstring when taken to Queensland earlier in the year, where they didn’t end up getting a run, but Price said they were now fully recovered and ready to race.
“He’s had a couple of trials and he’s been perfect,” he said.
Price said he was surprised at the depth of the field and considered bypassing it but after they drew nicely he stuck with original plans.
“He only would have to run first three or four to meet expectation,” he said.
“There’s a lot of trainers gearing the young horses early for the spring.
“I was a bit surprised (at the depth) but the plan is set and we’ll kick off there.
“He can win if the breaks go his way.”
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