He may be a veteran nine-year-old but the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Extra Zero is on track for another big Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign possibly targeting the Mackinnon Stakes 2015 at the end of October.
Lindsay Park’s son of Danzero returns to racing this weekend at his home track at Flemington Racecourse in a $90,000 open handicap over 1400m, a race the stable has also nominated eight-year-old Pago Rock in.
That will hopefully lead into another successful campaign for the 74-start warhorse who has amassed over $1.4 million in prize money over his lucrative career.
A triple stakes winner, Extra Zero may have just the one Group win on his record but his Group 1 form over the years has been suitably consistent.
A 2010 Group 2 Autumn Classic victory at Caulfield headlines his list of wins but the always-honest galloper is also a dual elite level runner-up.
The most recent of those was when he crossed a nose away second behind stablemate Spillway in the Group 1 Australian Cup (200m) at Flemington in mid-March during the autumn as part of his 14-start campaign.
His latest run was an eighth to Hartnell in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on March 28, one of his just two unplaced runs from last prep.
Co-trainer Dabernig is now hoping he can produce a good first-up run on the weekend and earn more Group 1 assignments this time in after he kicked off with a third to Late Charge in a black-type over the 1400m at Flemington last September.
“He’s carrying plenty of condition which you want them to do at the beginning of their campaign,” Dabernig told AAP.
“He’ll find the 1400 metres too sharp and will steadily improve with a bit of racing once we get him out to his right trip.
“He seems good and hasn’t lost any enthusiasm at this stage.”
The hope is to have him in top form for a run in the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) back at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day on October 31, which kicks off the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
If not the Mackinnon, the other option is a country cups campaign over the spring for Extra Zero who has had a couple of jumpouts at Flemington to help bring him on for this weekend’s run.
Dabernig also spoke of Australian Cup winner Spillway’s progress ahead of the spring, the Rail Link stallion’s last run being a fourth behind Criterion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11.
Sidelined with a joint injury over the past few months sustained during his Queen Elizabeth run, the five-year-old won’t return until later this spring for a short campaign, the main focus being next year’s autumn carnival.
“He’s under saddle and cantering,” Dabernig said.
“We’ll be guided by how he progresses but we’re not expecting him to be racing until the back-end of the spring.
“He might only have a run or two then we’ll put him away and get him ready for the autumn.”
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