After bypassing the latest spring – summer season the John O’Shea-trained Knoydart is nearing his race return with the gelding to be aimed at the 2015 Oakleigh Plate – Newmarket Handicap Group 1 Melbourne sprints.
The five-year-old son of More Than Ready hasn’t raced since running a disappointing 12th behind River Lad in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
A horse that has suffered from joint problems thorough his 20-start career, Knoydart jarred up badly post-Stradbroke and so was sent for an extended spell by his Godolphin connections.
“He’s had a lot of joint troubles throughout his career and the track was quite firm on Stradbroke Day,” Goldophin Racing Manager Jason Walsh told Racing Victoria this week.
“We elected to give him the spring off and he’s had a nice break and a gradual rehabilitation and has done very well.
“Having had three months off he was back and going in early December so he’s quite a bit further forward than most of our other carnival horses for that reason.”
Previously prepared by Peter Snowden he has had two runs for O’Shea with the other being a credible fifth beaten under two lengths by Spirit Of Boom in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) 14 days before the Stradbroke.
He hasn’t been in the winners’ stall since a big three and a half-length victory in the Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) at Mornington last February but Knoydart was ultra-competitive during the Melbourne Festival Of Racing the same two races he targets in 2015.
Firstly he was only one and three-quarter lengths away from Lankan Rupee in the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield before finishing third to the same horse after running on well in the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
This year’s Oakleigh Plate runs on February 28 followed by the lucrative Newmarket Handicap on March 14, and both are shaping up as nice aims for him in the autumn.
“He’s right up and going now and if we can keep him together, which we managed to do last preparation, the same races will be on the radar for him,” Walsh, who was yet to confirm a first-up target for the sprinter, said.
“His rating is that high now that those Group 1 features are sort of where we have to aim him.
“If he can stay sound I think he’s definitely got a second-tier Group 1 win in him.”
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