John Thompson has named the Epsom Handicap 2015 as a possible Group 1 target for his smart mare First Seal this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival after she kicks off her campaign in the Warwick Stakes this weekend.
Thompson confirmed Saturday’s feature race at Royal Randwick as the four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock’s season opener after First Seal was nominated for both the $250,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) and the $125,000 Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m).
Opting to take on the boys over more distance under weight-for-age conditions with First Seal, the four-time winner and Group 1 champion shoots for her second first-up victory from four starts and Thompson is confident the conditions in Sydney will suit on Saturday.
“She’ll run in the Warwick Stakes as long as the track’s dry and if not she’ll probably head down to Melbourne but at this stage it looks pretty well set in stone that she’ll run Saturday,” he told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“There are showers forecast later in the week but it looks pretty good at the moment and if it stays the way it is and we only get a light shower then the track will be perfect on Saturday.”
She was last seen running sixth behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained Amanpour in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 11, who is also nominated for the Warwick Stakes this weekend, before which she was in flying autumn form.
After a win in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm in late February First Seal was twice runner-up in elite level company at Rosehill when a nose off Plucky Belle in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) on March 14 and a neck off Fenway in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) a fortnight later.
A winner of over $835,000 in prize money over her 11 starts to date, First Seal boasts an excellent record at Randwick with two wins and two seconds from five runs including her Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) win over the mile last October.
This time in she could be up over the Randwick mile in elite level company again with Thompson looking at heading towards the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) with her on October 3, so long as the wet weather stays away.
“If she stays in Sydney then she’ll head towards the Epsom via the weight-for-age path but if it turns out to be wet in Sydney then she’ll head to Melbourne for races like the Sir Rupert Clarke and Toorak Handicap,” he said.
“I think she goes better kept a little bit on the fresh side, she’s got a great turn of foot and she runs well over 1400 and the mile (1600m) off a fast speed.
“I’ve just found that when we step her up to 2000m and you stretch her work out a little bit it makes her a little bit dour and takes her turn of foot away so at this stage we’ll keep her to mile races this preparation.”
The $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) runs at Caulfield Racecourse on September 26 followed by the $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) back at the track on October 10.
First Seal worked over 1200m on Tuesday morning and impressed Thompson with her work, which should bring her on nicely fitness wise for the Warwick Stakes after two official Randwick trials including a third over 836m behind Flamboyant Lass on August 10.
“She worked solidly this morning over six furlongs with a mate and it was nice strong work. Christian Reith galloped her for me and he said she gave him a great feel,” Thompson said.
“She’ll improve with the run but she’s in great shape, she looks fantastic and she’s ready to go.”
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