This weekend in Melbourne former Thousand Guineas winner Commanding Jewel will be stretched out over a mile again in the 2014 Toorak Handicap as connections prepare her for a step up to 2000m in a fortnight’s time in the Cox Plate.
The five-year-old Commands mare is one of 15 final acceptors making up the field for Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse, Commanding Jewel paying $9 to win.
Leon & Troy Corstens’ former star three-year-old was at her peak back in 2012 winning three of her opening five starts including the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) before injury struck her down in September the following year.
Kept to just 10 races over her career so far, this season she’s had three returning runs finishing in the money each time.
Two back she won the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington for the second year in a row before a somewhat disappointing loss running third at Moonee Valley on September 26.
Under the lights on Manikato Stakes Night she was two lengths off a very nice mare in Dear Demi in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m), jockey Damien Oliver easing the beaten odds-on favourite over the concluding stages.
She gets another go to atone and re-enter the Group 1 winners’ stall then this weekend in the Toorak Handicap jumping from barrier 10 with Singapore-based Corey Brown in the saddle for her stamina test.
Brown is after his second Toorak Handicap win in three years following his success aboard Solzhenitsyn for his first in 2012; Nash Rawiller rode the galloper for his successful title defense in last year’s Toorak.
In an attempt to get her to run out a strong mile this time round instructions will be to ride the mare quietly, co-trainer Troy Corstens saying from the wide gate their options were limited.
“We’ve got no choice. We’re going to ride her cold and with cover. She’ll just go back,” he told AAP.
“I suppose there is that little question mark whether she is just a sprinter, but we’re going to find that out on Saturday.”
Also of some concern is her 56.5kg weight allocation, only 1.5kg less than Marco Botti’s top weight Guest Of Honour (58kg) making his Australian race debut.
“Obviously she’s got a bit of weight so she’s going to have to contend with that,” Corstens said.
“But I think she’ll run really well.”
If she does shrug off her sprinter tag connections will likely continue onto the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25 at Moonee Valley, a weight-for-age classic Commanding Jewel pays $34 through Ladbrokes.com.au to win.
That price is sure to firm if she can score an upset Toorak Handicap result first, her main dangers looking to be last start Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Trust In A Gust ($5.50) and third placegetter Bull Point ($6) from the in-form Sydney stables of Chris Waller.
To back Commanding Jewel on Saturday in the Toorak Handicap at the best prices head to Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on your winnings on all the runners in the mile showdown!