Trainer Tony McEvoy kicks off the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival sprints campaign of Iconic this weekend with the galloper making his four-year-old debut in the Carlyon Stakes 2014 at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
The Bel Esprit gelding has twice finished second at Group level but is yet to win at stakes level during his 12 start career.
That is something the Angaston-based McEvoy hopes to change on Saturday when Iconic races in the $120,000 Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) on McKenzie Stakes Day where Nick Hall has the mount.
One of 16 hopefuls nominated for the Carlyon this year, Iconic was last seen running fifth over 1200m at Moonee Valley back in March.
That followed a failed effort when stepped up to elite level for the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
Iconic could only manage to finish eight lengths away 14th behind the world’s top rated sprinter Lankan Rupee at Caulfield that day after getting forced back from the extreme outside barrier 18.
Even with a better gate though McEvoy isn’t sure Iconic would have been a genuine threat rating him just off the Group 1 horses going around.
“Not much went right in the Group One but he’s probably just off the Group One horses too,” McEvoy told AAP this week.
Before the Oakleigh however Iconic ran an eye-catching second to Lankan Rupee in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) when blocked for a run on the straight, form that earned him the Group 1 assignment.
That was also his second black-type placing following a close second to Vivi Veloce in the Group 3 National Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville back in May last year.
This season after the Carlyon Stakes McEvoy plans to keep Iconic to the shorter sprint features of the spring.
He’s yet to map out an exact campaign for the horse however or even confirm a grand final aim, but knows there will be a nice race or two out there for the speedster.
“He’s very effective off a high speed,” McEvoy said.
“I’ll keep him to 1000 and 1100 metre sprints but I have no particular race picked out.”
While McEvoy knows Iconic isn’t fully wound-up for Saturday’s assignment, a winning 1000m barrier trial at Morphettville earlier in the month in the mud hinted at a nice resuming run.
“He’s not going into the race fully wound up but he’s ready to run well,” he said.
The headline Carlyon Stakes entries for this weekend meanwhile include talented mares Villa Verde – winner of the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Randwick and third to Tiger Tees in the Group 1 The Galaxy at Rosehill during March – and the Robert Smerdon-trained Robert Sangster Stakes fifth placed Shamal Wind.
Sydney’s Chris Waller is also involved with his Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes winning Sydneysider Kencella last seen running 11th in The Galaxy back on March 29.
Also in the mix are Group 2 winner Sea Lord for Stephen Brown, Anthony Freedman’s Commands mare Minaj who took out last season’s Essendon Mazda 55 Second Challenge and Our Nkwazi coming off a win at the track from the start of the month.
Wednesday sees Racing Victoria take final acceptances for the Melbourne races this weekend including the Carlyon Stakes with the field to be published right here at Races.com.au.
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