After a disappointing first-up run from Group 1 placed Jabali, connections of the Mick Price-trained colt have Craig Newitt jumping aboard for his second run of the new season in Saturday’s 2014 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes.
His contingent is made up of Manhattan Rain colt Moonovermanhattan last seen winning a Group 3 in the wet at Morphettville on debut back in May, and three colts coming off a run in the Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on August 16.
The Vain Stakes was won by Get The Nod while Price’s trio of Nordic Empire, Jabali and Cornrow ran third, sixth and ninth respectively.
It was a decent run from Wilander colt Nordic Empire, coming off an earlier win over 1000m at Moonee Valley where he defeated subsequent Vain Stakes runner-up Stingray, as he saw black-type company for the first time.
Price’s Group 1 performed stablemates Cornrow and Jabali though were somewhat disappointing in their resuming runs.
The performances pushed the duo down the Ladbrokes.com.au futures for upcoming spring Group 1s with Cornrow and Jabali now at juicy prices to win the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney on September 13 and the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) back in Melbourne on October 11.
Exceed And Excel colt Jabali was runner-up behind star filly Earthquake in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield back in February, a race Cornrow ran third in.
His next two runs however were disappointing in Sydney with Jabali running 7th in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) behind Ghibellines and then 11th to Mossfun in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) in the wet at Rosehill on April 5.
After a four month let-up the Vain Stakes saw Jabali jump awkwardly but get into a good position fourth on the turn.
He didn’t let down on the straight however and never threatened when beaten three and a half lengths with Damien Oliver in the saddle.
On Saturday a jockey change sees Newitt ride Jabali for the first time, the hoop hoping to get him up closer than Oliver managed in the Vain Stakes.
“They (the connections) probably expected a bit more of him first-up but he’ll improve with that run under his belt and I’m sure he won’t be too far away,” Newitt told AAP.
Oliver meanwhile is engaged to ride the Leon & Troy Corstens-trained Awesome Rock for the colt’s first-up run of the new season.
Saturday’s McNeil Stakes is an important lead-up races to the Rose and Guineas and was won last year by the David Hayes-trained Fast ‘N’ Rocking.
Hayes, now in training partnership with Tom Dabernig, has three entries this year looking to go back-to-back with Zululand, Moonlight Hussler and Forgive And Forget.
Zululand is the headliner of the trio, the Fastnet Rock colt having run second to Go Indy Go during the autumn in the Group 1 Champagne Classic (1600m).
He too returned in the Vain Stakes when fifth, an effort he is likely to improve on this weekend getting up over a little more distance.
The other top McNeil Stakes nominees include last start Group 3 San Domenico Stakes winner Nostradamus for Team Hawkes and Chris Waller’s Group 1 JJ Atkins runner-up Brazen Beau who is equal $9 favourite to win the Caulfield Guineas through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Check out the full futures odds open at Ladbrokes on the Caulfield Guineas, and next month’s Golden Rose, and enjoy a bonus welcome bet valued at 100% of your first deposit up to $250!