Three-year-old gelding Berisha will be running for much more than the first place prize of $30,000 in Friday night’s Benchmark 70 race at Moonee Valley.
If he can win the 1600 metre race, trainer Murray Johnson will look towards taking Berisha to the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 7.
Berisha is one of 122 horses nominated for the 2015 Australian Guineas and has already proven he can run out a mile after finishing third in the Group 2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) back in November.
However his shot at the $500,000 race will all come down to how well he runs on Friday night. If the gelding cannot impress on Friday he’ll be saved for the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) and return to Moonee Valley on March 20.
“If he won with authority then we’d look at the Guineas,” Johnson told Racing Victoria.
“Obviously his one run at a mile in the Sandown Guineas was pretty good so it’s definitely an option.
“There’s also the Alister Clark Stakes also for the three-year-olds which is also an option at this stage. I think at 2000m he might be able to separate himself a little more from some of the more brilliant milers.
“If he looks like he needs further then we’ll step him up over further but if not then we’ll give the big one a shot.”
Berisha won his maiden at Kyneton early in November but has been pretty luckless since then, getting trapped wide or blocked in all three of his subsequent starts. The gelding was last seen running fifth in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1300m) on January 26, the second time he’s been beaten by Petrology.
The gelding is one of ten three-year-olds set to run over a mile at Moonee Valley on Friday night. He’ll enjoy a jump from barrier six with Craig Williams to ride.
“His form’s actually very good if you take into consideration he was caught wide last start, he got too far back at Flemington without the blinkers on and then he was blocked in the next time at Flemington,” he said.
“Compared to when he ran in the Sandown Guineas he’s a much more seasoned horse so hopefully we’ve got him where we need to for Friday.
“The horse is pretty versatile, obviously a nice sit would be perfect but he shouldn’t be too far away from them.”
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