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Trainer of Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes 2015 favourite Fontiton, Robert Smerdon admits there are some queries over how his other runner in the Caulfield classic Thurlow will run out the 1200m.
Smerdon’s Turffontein filly Fontiton is the dominant $2.45 favourite through Ladbrokes.com.au to win this weekend’s $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
She’s drawn a treat with barrier one, which produced the 2013 winner Miracles Of Life, and has won all three of her lead-up runs.
“Anything inside the middle is good,” Smerdon said of the Blue Diamond Stakes barrier draw to Racing Victoria.
“You don’t want to draw too wide anywhere.”
A blistering six length Inglis Debutants win on debut was followed by victories in the Blue Diamond Fillies Preview and Prelude and now Fontiton is looking to repeat the feat of Smerdon’s 1985 Blue Diamond winner Let’s Get Physical who won 30 years ago also as the undefeated punters’ pick.
Fontiton had her last serious piece of pre-race trackwork on Tuesday morning and worked strongly alongside Smerdon’s other hope in Saturday’s Group 1 Thurlow.
Mark Zahra stays on Fontiton while Craig Williams has the mount on Sebring filly Thurlow who has won two of her three career starts to date and pays $26 in the latest Blue Diamond Stakes odds.
On debut at Flemington during last spring’s Melbourne Cup Carnival the progressive sprinter was a close second to the John O’Shea-trained Antelucan in the Group 3 Emirates Airline Plate (1000m).
She has won both of her subsequent starts, Williams aboard for all three runs, with the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) at Sandown-Hillside last November and the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m) first-up at the same track.
While her class and form are unquestionable, the Blue Diamond Stakes will be Thurlow’s first look at further than 1000m, and how she handles the step up in distance will be key to her chances.
“On (Melbourne) Cup Day, at her first start, she got carted off the track and into the ground that we didn’t want and got beaten a neck,” Smerdon said.
“She then won the Merson Cooper Stakes and then, off a break, first-up she won the Chairman’s Stakes.
“She had only had a soft, half-mile trial before that so she went into that with a bit of improvement to come.
“You know, she can’t do more than what she has been doing and has earned her opportunity.
“I’m not quite sure that she will run 1200m, she is only a little filly, but she certainly should be competitive.”
Both of Smerdon’s hopeful fillies, looking to be the fourth female Blue Diamond Stakes winner in as many years, ran this morning doing pace work form the 800m, striding up the straight over the final 400m and running in a bit under 23 seconds on the bridle together.
He was pleased with both but admits Fontiton is his conservative favourite, as well as the bookies’, and will take some beating on the weekend.
“I am always a bit conservative and never get over confident,” he said.
“She gives me the impression that she will run the distance, to me she looks like she’ll run further, even 1400m.
“Her form going into it says that she is the one that you want to be taking into the race, she has done nothing wrong.”
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