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Ballarat-based trainer Archie Alexander has identified a Flemington open handicap clash as the likely returning run for his 2015 Adelaide Cup-bound import Renew.
The former Marco Botti-trained European import was bought down under by his Australian connections at OTI Racing to target the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in October, joining Alexander only a week out from the classic.
He was severely hampered in the early stages of the race and failed to feature in the finish when seven lengths away 16th behind the ill-fated Japanese winner Admire Rakti.
After that he improved in easier company at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day when narrowly beaten into second over 2800m before enjoying a step up to the two miles for the Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) on November 15.
Chris Symons had the ride that day and Renew settled mid field before fighting his way forward right to the line to put his head out and score a tight win over Like A Carousel.
Now Alexander, who the horse was sent to over Chris Waller, plans to bring him back in the autumn targeting the $400,000 Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville Racecourse on March 9.
To help kick that off Alexander ran the horse between races at Ballarat on Sunday with Symons in the saddle, the lightly-raced five-year-old working alongside stablemate Only A Pleasure.
His new trainer was pleased with the run done over 1600m and said a run in a fortnight at Flemington was now a first-up option.
“They galloped over a mile, it was just a nice routine bit of work,” Alexander told Racing Victoria.
“Only A Pleasure led and Renew sat behind him a couple of lengths and joined in at about the 500 to run and they just finished head-to-head both hard held.
“They had a nice blowout and it’s just what Renew needed and he’s going to head to a Flemington race in 12 days’ time.”
The race Alexander looks to have in mind is a 2000m open handicap run at Victoria’s premier course on January 31, the horseman believing the import an excellent first-up chance over that distance.
“He ran over 2400 in a Group 1 (the Caulfield Cup) where he was far from disgraced so I’m thinking that a handicap that’s 400-500 shorter looks ideal and he should be able to run a good race,” he said.
“It’s just the starting point for him; it’s not his big day, he’s a two-miler and we are starting off at 2000m, I think 2000m is a happy medium.”
Alexander is confident the stayer has come on since the spring and that there is plenty of improvement still in him as he heads towards the Adelaide Cup and then another Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign towards the end of the year.
“Chris came up and sat on him and was happy with the way he’d developed, he said he felt a more relaxed horse than he did in the spring,” he said.
“It’s taken a little while to get to know him, to know his quirks, we know how he is now, his weights from last prep to this prep.
“He’s still a bit heavy now but 12 days away from the race and that’s only his starting point.
“We still have a month-and-a-half, two months to the Adelaide Cup, which is plenty of time to get that 10–15kgs off.”
Alexander has also recently taken over the preparation of the former Ed Walker-trained British stayer Ruscello, winner of the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) in November of 2013.
The Cape Cross six-year-old had one run for Robert Smerdon when failing to finish first-up at Caulfield in April, the horse suffering from a breathing issue that will be rectified with surgery before a spring campaign.
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