British import Contributer is set to run in Sydney for the first time at the beginning of autumn after trainer John O’Shea announced the horse could resume in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 14.
O’Shea believes that the Melbourne tracks are too firm for the five-year-old horse but is not against sending him south for the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
“I just don’t want to risk him down there too early because I feel the tracks could be on the firm side at this time of the year,” O’Shea told TVN.
After finishing in the first three in seven of his nine starts in Britain, Contributer made the trek to Australia for a spring campaign that started with a win in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m), winning one length clear of Noble Protector with Signoff a further length behind in third.
The horse then lined up in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 8 however after missing the jump he just couldn’t get into his pattern and finished four lengths behind winner Hucklebuck in eighth place.
O’Shea revealed that the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 was a likely second-up for Contributer with the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on the cards if a trip to Melbourne is ruled out.
“We will look to kick him off in the Apollo Stakes, then he could go to the Chipping Norton and potentially head to Melbourne for the Australian Cup, or stay in Sydney for the Ranvet, they are both on the same day.
“But we will just assess him as he comes along, he will have another trial and we will go from there.”
The horse enjoyed a hit-out on the Randwick course Thursday morning, with hoop James McDonald confident of improvement since the spring.
“That is as good as horses can trial,” McDonald said.
“Mentally he is just a completely different horse, he has really come on and adapted to the way horses are trained in Australia.
“He basically came straight off the plane in the spring and was able to perform at a high level.
“Personally I didn’t think he was disgraced in the Emirates, it was a good effort over a mile and to me he feels like he has improved lengths.”
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