Cranbourne’s Doug Harrison is confident his young colt Tudor is set for a solid Group 2 effort at Moonee Valley on Saturday when the three-year-old lines up in the Australia Stakes 2015.
The son of Strategic is second-up this summer after resuming off an 11 week spell to run a brave second behind Fast Cash over 1200m in the $150,000 Wedrive.Com.Au VOBIS Gold Carat on January 3.
He led early there on the rails from his barrier two draw and kicked away when under pressure before holding on in a fighting finish to cross under two lengths off the runaway winner.
This weekend he faces a small field totaling only eight runners in the $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) after the defending champion Richie’s Vibe was scratched from the race.
Top jockey Craig Williams stays aboard Tudor in the Group 2 after partnering with the up-and-comer first-up, the duo to jump from barrier three (in from four).
Harrison expects his horse to be up on the pace again like last start, the trainer hoping his luck throughout is a little better.
“His last start was a good run and we were a little bit unfortunate not to get the win,” he told Racing Victoria.
“He hadn’t trialled leading into that race and came off a break straight into that first-up.
“We were very pleased with how he went, he looked really well.
“His training’s been lovely; he’s a push-button horse with a terrific nature for a colt.
“I think he’ll run a very good race on Saturday, and think he’s a good a chance to finish in the placings.”
Before his latest break Tudor was twice tested in black-type company at Caulfield in October during eh spring.
On the back of a big two and a half length win at Moonee Valley in late September, he ran fourth to Eloping in the Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) where he was hampered near the 600m mark and then ninth after becoming unbalanced following interference in the Listed Crown Lager Stakes (1400m) on Caulfield Cup Day.
His form at Moonee Valley has so far been very good with a one win and a second from three starts, and he’s also a previous winner at the track and distance giving Harrison even more confidence.
Current Australia Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by firming odds-on favourite Dissident in from $2 to $1.80 over the past few days, the Peter Moody-trained Group 1 winner first-up here in gate six with Ben Melham in the saddle.
Tudor meanwhile occupies the second line of Australia Stakes betting at $4.80 also firming in notably from his opening price of $5.50.
While Harrison knows it is a step up in class for Tudor this weekend and rates Dissident as the main threat, he still believes there is a lack of genuine depth in this year’s field.
“He is stepping up a lot in class, but as far as Group-2 classes go, it’s an easier assignment than what it could have been,” he said.
“There’s really only the one noted Group-1 performer in Dissident, but I think he can hold his own against any of them.”
Running in the Australia Stakes was actually an eleventh-hour decision with Harrison originally looking at the $150,000 Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1300m) at Sandown on Monday for his second-up run.
“I originally had him nominated for the Manfred Stakes at Sandown on Monday, the goal was to go there,” he said.
“But we decided to have a go at this as a lot of the top sprinters aren’t quite ready or are waiting for other races.
“It looks to be a good race for him and he likes the course a lot so I thought we may as well give it a crack.
“He’s a good type of horse and I believe he has the ability for a race like this.”
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