Local horseman Robert Smerdon is sweating on a suitable gate for his in-form stallion Under The Louvre who needs a good barrier to be competitive in Saturday’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2015 at Caulfield Racecourse.
This year’s $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) attracted a bumper 27 nominations on Monday, the Underwood Stakes Day support act set to draw a full field of 18 starters.
With such a big line-up expected for the handicap clash, Smerdon knows how important the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes barrier draw is for his hopeful Under The Louvre who is a noted backmarker in a race set to run at a solid speed.
“Barriers will play a big part,” Smerdon told AAP.
“This is one place where you need a lot of luck.
“You hope it’s a high pressure race which will suit him, and with (the John Sadler-trained speedster) Charmed Harmony in it, they should be running along.”
Smerdon’s Excellent Art stallion has a cracking Caulfield track record with two wins and three seconds from six previous starts including two seconds from as many runs over the 1400m there that he sees again on Saturday.
Third to Flamberge in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide back in mid-May, Under The Louvre returned on August 29 running fifth to Bounding in the Group 3 The Heath 1100 (1100m) before improving on September 12 at Flemington when a close second to Churchill Dancer in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m).
This weekend he returns to Group 1 company in the Sir Rupert, a race Smerdon has saddled up two previous starters in without success, having come through the Bobbie Lewis in good order.
“Last time he went to come out underneath a horse but there wasn’t quite the room and he had to steady, come back out and that was enough,” Smerdon said.
“An on-pacer makes his own luck, a backmarker has to have things unfold.”
The Bobbie Lewis Quality has produced four Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winners since 2007, most recently the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane (4th in 2013).
While Smerdon has expressed obvious concerns over the barriers, recent history shows wide gates haven’t meant the end of a horse’s chances in the classic.
Since 2008 three winners jumped from double-digit barriers with: Orange County (15 in 2008), Moment Of Change (15 in 2012) and Rebel Dane (14 in 2013).
The last time the race was run at its capacity 18 starters was when Orange County won before there were 17 runners in 2010 and 2011 when jockey Craig Williams rode back-to-back champions aboard Response and Toorak Toff respectively.
Mark Zahra retains the ride in the Sir Rupert Clarke.
The 2015 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes final field and barrier draw is out on Wednesday so stay tuned.
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