Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths will use a run at this Monday’s Australia Day meeting at Sandown-Hillside to help determine whether his in-form four-year-old The Quarterback is good enough for a Newmarket Handicap 2015 bid this autumn.
The Street Boss gelding boasts six wins from 15 starts to date including his past two on the trot this month at Flemington over 1000m down the straight.
The most recent of those was on January 10, the Group 1 performed and dual Group 3 third placegetter breaking his black-type maiden with a narrow win over Sumakaray in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m).
Jockey Matthew Allen was back in the board after Mark Zahra rode the horse to his win nine days earlier from the inside alley at Victoria’s premier track, Allen and The Quarterback overcoming the outside barrier 11 of 11 draw in the Kensington.
Pushed out the back on the outside early, The Quarterback fought hard to make up three lengths 400m from home, getting level with the leaders with 50m to go before pushing through and proving too strong on the line in his long-neck win.
Now he’ll shoot for his third on the trot in the $120,000 Listed W.J. Adams Stakes (1000m) over the same distance but at Sandown on Monday’s Australia Day meeting.
If all goes well this long weekend, Griffiths will continue to step The Quarterback up in class aiming him for the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 14.
“That’s what we want to do but the question is whether he’s good enough, and how his form is leading into it,” Griffiths said.
“He’s got to keep taking the next step and if he continues to do that, well then he’s going to give himself a chance in a race like that.
“But he’s got to do that.”
Helping him make a successful first step is that he gets in on the 54kg light-weight, 1.5kg less than he carried to victory in the Kensington Stakes.
The heaviest-weighted WJ Adams Stakes nominee is Group 1 winner Moment Of Change with 61.5kg while the defending champ Shamal Wind has 56kg.
“I’m really happy with him so he’ll go to the Adams Stakes and we’ll see how we go there,” Griffiths said.
It is shaping up as a cracking Newmarket Handicap field this year with the likes of the world’s equal highest-rated sprinters Terravista and Lankan Rupee both targeting the race along with Chautauqua.
The trio dominated the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) in November running the trifecta, and were also awarded top honours as the three highest-rated sprinters in the 2014 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings this week.
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