Donna Logan’s New Zealand visitor who has Group 1 winning form down under, Volkstok’n’barrell will continue his Caulfield Cup 2015 bid with a run in Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington Racecourse.
The now four-year-old Tavistock gelding travelled down under off the back of a NZ Derby second during the autumn and enjoyed a tight win over Preferment in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
He then finished third behind the improving NZ Derby runner-up, fellow Kiwi raider Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick in early April.
After a break he ran first-up in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), his first run in Melbourne and under a mile this year.
He finished mid-field when seventh behind Chris Waller’s now five-time Group 1 winner Boban and was beaten under two lengths in the blanket finish in the weight-for-age.
This Saturday Volkstok’n’barrell makes his Flemington debut in another WFA Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival feature, the $400,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
While Logan’s smart youngster is sure to improve the further he gets this campaign, currently he undefeated over 1600m with two wins over the distance he sees on Saturday.
Logan is using the Makybe Diva Stakes as a lead-up into the either the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17 or the follow Saturday’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Currently he pays $17 in the futures markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for both majors, his Caulfield Cup chances increasing when he was allocated just 53.5kg when weights were released last week.
A decision on whether to target the Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup will be made post-Makybe Diva Stakes Day his co-trained Chris Gibbs told the NZ Racing Desk this week, but that the light weight for the latter made it a good option.
“The way he’s weighted for the Caulfield Cup has to make it a good option,” Gibbs said.
The team will use the after race comments of jockey Craig Williams, who rode Volkstok’n’barrell for his Rosehill Guineas win and ATC Derby third before Blake Shinn took over in the Memsie with Williams riding in Japan, as a guide to where to next.
“We will talk to Craig after the race, we value his opinion, and take it from there,” Gibbs said.
“There’s no rush to make a decision just yet and we’ll get Saturday out of the way first.”
Volkstok’n’barrell worked well on Tuesday morning at Caulfield according to Williams, Gibbs confident he’ll only improve heading into the weekend.
“He worked with John Sadler’s horse Mutual Regard and he pulled up really well,” he said.
“Craig was very happy and when he hopped off he said while Volkstok’n’barrell wasn’t quite there yet, he would be competitive on Saturday.
“The horse has settled into his routine here and he’s eating well so we’ll push on again from this run. We want him to be peaking at the right time and he’s definitely heading in the right direction.”
If Volkstok’n’barrell goes to the Caulfield Cup, Williams will be aboard Japanese rival Hokko Brave one of two horses nominated to go back-to-back in the race for Japan after the success of Admire Rakti last year.
Williams rode back-to-back Caulfield Cup winners with Southern Speed (2011) and French raider Dunaden (2012).
His ride in 2015 Hokko Brave is the current $15 second pick in the all-in Caulfield Cup odds led by the other Japanese visitor Fame Game and the aforementioned Mongolian Khan at $13.
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