Adelaide horseman Phillip Stokes is confident of a good first-up run at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Saturday’s 2015 Carlyon Stakes from his super consistent sprinter Éclair Choice who kicks off his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the short-distance feature.
A total of 20 hopefuls were nominated for the $120,000 Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) this weekend, including Stokes’ Morphettville-based California Dane gelding Éclair Choice.
The progressive galloper has proven a perennial placegetter so far with five of his 12 starts producing a second place finish.
He also boasts four wins on his record, most recently in the Listed Redelva Stakes (1100m) back home in South Australia on April 18 where he defeated Idatwo by a length and a quarter.
His latest run was on May 9 at Morphettville in the Group 2 Euclase Stakes (1200m) where he finished fifth behind Nicoscene, beaten just over two lengths in his first foray in Group company.
After the Euclase Éclair Choice was sent for a spell and he is set to return on Saturday at Moonee Valley for his third start at the notoriously tight circuit where he was last seen winning over 1200m in late November.
Éclair Choice trialled at home ahead of his returning run in Melbourne on August 7 over 1000m on a Heavy (8) track and enjoyed a runaway six and a half-length victory over Australian Guineas runner-up Alpine Eagle who runs in Saturday’s $100,000 Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) in Adelaide.
That romp home in the hit-out has the South Australian raider prime for the Carlyon Stakes where his possible rivals include the likes of the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Group 1 placed mare Gregers, Mick Price’s Aurie’s Star Handicap third placegetter Le Bonsir and last start winner at the track and distance Our Nkwazi who is a veteran nine-year-old.
Stokes also nominated Éclair Choice for a non black-type Moonee Valley race on Saturday, a BenchMark 90 handicap over 1200m.
He is keen to give the horse a go in the stakes race though hoping it leads to tougher assignments this spring in Victoria, and in a bid to sharpen him up will add blinkers to his gear on Saturday after he trialled so well with them on at the start of the mont.
“They seem to make an obvious difference in the trial so we decided to keep them on,” the horse’s regular jockey, the Adelaide-based Dominic Tourneur told Racenet.
“He can be aggressive and he probably will be with the blinkers on so the 1000 (metres) is probably the favoured trip for him.
“He had a gallop to top him off and tune him up for Saturday.
“That will do him, he won’t do much before Saturday now.”
Tourneur tipped retuning Commands mare Gregers as the one to beat in the Carlyon Stakes, but that other than her he wasn’t too concerned about much else lining up.
“Gregers is probably the benchmark horse but outside her, it’s pretty even,” Tourneur, who has just the one Moonee Valley ride on Saturday at this stage, said.
“He’s a horse that just continued to improve so we’re looking for a forward showing on Saturday off the back of his trial.”
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