Flemington horseman Nigel Blackison has named the Toorak Handicap 2015 as a Group 1 aim for his third placegetter in the same race last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Desert Jeuney.
The now six-year-old Desert King gelding was third behind Trust In A Gust in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) over the Caulfield mile last spring four runs into his campaign, the $400,000 October 10 feature on the agenda again for the horse this campaign.
That campaign continues on the weekend at his home Flemington track in Race 2 on Aurie’s Star Handicap Day, the $90,000 Louis Polgar & Jason Vance Handicap (1400m).
One of eight gallopers engaged in the open handicap clash, Desert Jeuney is drawn in barrier eight with apprentice Michael Dee booked for the ride in the place of James Winks.
The horse’s regular rider Winks has been aboard for his two previous runs this time in including the last start eighth to Play Master in the Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) from July 11.
Beaten three and three-quarter lengths that day, Desert Jeuney struggled with the hefty 60kg allocation in the All Victorian Sprint and so will appreciate the apprentice claim of Dee on Saturday.
Blackiston is confidence Saturday’s race is a suitable option, the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au clearly led by odd-on favourite Charmed Harmony ($1.75) who shoots for his third win on the trot, with Desert Jeuney rated a $9 hope.
The John Sadler-trained Charmed Harmony is definitely the horse to beat according to Blackiston, who was hoping for a nice run from a wide barrier for his hopeful.
“If Charmed Harmony gets an easy run up front it will be hard to make ground from off the pace,” he told AAP.
“We’ve drawn the outside gate so he’ll come back, get relaxed and hopefully he’ll be running home strongly.
“If he runs home in the first two or three then he’s definitely going the right way.”
All going well and the Toorak Handicap will be on the spring agenda for the galloper who hasn’t won a race since September of 2013.
That’s a lengthy drought Blackiston hopes to break this campaign starting on Saturday with the addition of a barrier blanket to help keep the gelding calm in the gates after he was slow away from the barriers last time out.
“He’s in great order and Saturday is definitely a more suitable race for him, with the weight claim and it being 1400 metres,” Blackiston said.
“He had a little jumpout last week with a barrier blanket.
“He missed the kick last start because he’s a bit of a character and he can do a few things wrong occasionally.
“The barrier blanket will hopefully keep him calm in the barriers and hopefully he’ll begin well.”
As well as the Toorak Handicap, Desert Jenuey is also set to race in the $200,000 Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse for the second year in a row on Cox Plate Day, October 24, after a third to Hooked in the race last year.
Blackiston also hasn’t ruled out a $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) run on October 17 for the stayer, but said he would have to win the Toorak Handicap to earn a start in the world’s richest mile and a half handicap.
Nominations for a number of the spring majors were taken this week and updated Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes have Desert Jeuney listed as a $101 roughie shot.
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