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A barnstorming three length trial win at Cranbourne on Thursday morning has boosted the early Golden Slipper 2015 claims of the Mark Riley-trained Of The Brave.
In his first official trial of the season the Mornington-based Starspangledbanner colt was super impressive in this morning’s fifth hit-out winning the New Zealand Bloodstock 2YO C&G Trial over 800m in a sharp 45.44 seconds.
He put three lengths on second over the line Gold Busker and looked the picture of health ahead of his autumn return.
Earlier this month Of The Brave caught the eye with a Sandown jump-out before his this morning, the chestnut having won on debut taking out the Listed Inglis Debutant Stakes (1000m) as a 3/1 shot at Caulfield by one and three-quarter lengths back on October 11.
Stephen Baster rode the up-and-comer that day and was in the saddle again for his impress Cranbourne trial that has Riley looking forward to his first-up run of the autumn in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (Colts & Geldings) (1100m) at Caulfield on February 14.
“He hasn’t disappointed us in anything he’s done this horse and he’s put everything together again today,” Riley, who soon after speaking to Racing Victoria was found guilty for a positive test for a banned substance on one of his horses, said.
“Stephen purposely had him out on his own in the middle of the track just to educate him a little bit more.
“I think he’ll take good improvement from the trial and he’s right on track for the Blue Diamond Prelude.”
The BD Prelude is also on the agenda for Riley’s quickest trial winner at Cranbourne this morning, Royalic who won heat four in 44.90 seconds.
“Last preparation we had problems with him in the Maribyrnong Trial where he pulled up very jarry and sore,” Riley said of the son of Written Tycoon who was unplaced on debut at Flemington in October.
“He was very impressive today in his trial. At this stage I think Of The Brave is a little bit ahead of him but as they mature and develop I think they’re pretty evenly matched horses and I’m pretty lucky to have them both.”
The first major aim for Of The Brave this campaign meanwhile is in Melbourne’s $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield Racecourse on February 28, third declarations for which left 84 juveniles in contention this week.
The latest Blue Diamond Stakes odds are still led by Robert Smerdon’s six length Inglis Banner winning filly Fontiton ($4.60) who retained her undefeated status on Monday winning the Group 3 Blue Diamond Fillies Preview (1100m) at Sandown.
Of The Brave is also in the top five of Blue Diamond Stakes betting at a current quote of $13.
From there the plan is to head to Sydney for the lucrative $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 21.
“If he ran top three in the Blue Diamond and he pulled up really well than we’d head to the Slipper,” Riley said.
“We’re using these trials as stepping stones leading into his first up run and he’s had a nice trial today but he hasn’t been overtaxed by any shape.”
Ladbrokes have Ottoman ($8) at the top of their Golden Slipper odds with Of The Brave a $41 outsider at this stage of betting.
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