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Whittlesea-based Craig Widdison, who trains in partnership with his father-in-law Peter Morgan, has a host of the stable’s top guns on trial at Cranbourne this Thursday morning including smart filly Eloping.
The three-year-old daughter of Choisir has won six of her 13 starts to date for over $1 million in prize money, her most recent victory being in the lucrative $250,000 Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in mid-October.
She’s twice Group 1 performed when seventh in the Golden Slipper and then sixth to the Chris Waller-trained Brazen Beau, who is Royal Ascot bound this year, in the Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day in a tough performance.
Eloping rounded out her spring campaign on November 6 just five days after the Coolmore with a close second when under half a length off Onemorezeta in the Group 3 Gucci Stakes (1100m).
Widdison said the diminutive filly was working well in her usual consistent manner ahead of her Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
“She’s just herself, she doesn’t change,” he told RSN’s Racing & Sport program on Wednesday morning.
“She’s still just the same her coat’s probably the best it’s ever been this time but going through her program really well.
“She had a gallop at Sandown the other morning and she just does what she has to, eats and is just happy to be here.”
Set for a strong season in the better sprint features, she is currently nominated for the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) that runs at Flemington Racecourse on March 14.
2015 Newmarket Handicap nominations closed on Tuesday with 57 early entries including the world’s three highest-rated sprinters in Terravista, Lankan Rupee and Chautauqua.
Eloping runs in the third trial of the morning tomorrow over 800m in a hit-out that also features Group 3 winner Griante, consistent stakes performer Under The Louvre and the fellow Widdison & Morgan-trained Star Rolling.
Casino Prince gelding Star Rolling hasn’t started since he was outclassed on November 1 to finish nine lengths away 10th behind Happy Trails in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
That was the five-year-old’s third straight Group 1 failure as he previously ran eighth in the Underwood at Caulfield and 10th in the Epsom Handicap at Randwick where he missed the kick and was hampered near the turn.
Star Rolling did win first-up in the spring though in mid-August with a gusty effort in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) from the outside barrier (10) following a solid autumn.
Last Melbourne Festival of Racing he enjoyed two top three runs from four starts including behind the 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente when under half a length away third in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield.
That February feature could again be considered this autumn with Star Rolling progressing towards another run in the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on Super Saturday.
He was dead last in the race behind Fiorente last autumn but is nominated again this year, Widdison confident he’s improved over the past year.
“He’s great,” the trainer said.
“He’s had that little issue where he’s torn a muscle in his back end twice now on us once in the Cranbourne Cup and then in his last run but touch wood he seems in great order this time.
“Looking forward to seeing how he goes this prep.”
The third most notable trial runner for the team tomorrow is then Zebulon, Widdison saying they were happy with all three.
“All happy with them,” he said.
“It will be good to see how they go at the trials.”
Three-year-old All American gelding Zebulon was stepped up to Group 1 company last start on October 11 but was never a factor when beaten 16.5 lengths crossing last behind Shooting To Win in the Caulfield Guineas over the mile.
“He wasn’t really ready for the big stage at that time (last season),” he said.
Widdison also said that he hoped a gelding operation would be the key to unlocking Zebulon’s potential although they hadn’t noticed much change in his temperament since the operation.
“Since being gelded, hopefully that’s the key to him,” he added.
“He was never really bad, expect for at the end.
“He’s pretty quiet as a rule.”
Zebulon could target the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in early March having been nominated for the classic this week.
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