A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Evergreen veteran Garud is in flying form ahead of Saturday’s 2015 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Racecourse where trainer Michael Moroney hopes the horse can shrug off his placegetter status this campaign.
An eight-year-old son of High Chaparral, the gelding has his 37th career run on Zipping Classic Day in the $150,000 Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m).
He gets in on the 54kg minimum in the handicap clash, Eclipse Stakes weights led by the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained nine-year-old Extra Zero (59kg).
Former European-trained stayer Garud has had three previous runs at the Sandown Hillside track for just the one third place finish, but hasn’t raced at the course since his failed ninth when last over the line in the Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m) three years ago.
Having won only four of his career runs, the galloper’s latest turf triumph was in the Woodford Cup (1700m) back in late December carrying 58kg.
He was unplaced in both the Hobart Cup and Launceston Cup over the mile and a half during a Tasmanian raid earlier this year, but has found form again in Melbourne this preparation.
His three runs this time in have resulted in three third place finishes including behind Murray Baker’s subsequent Crystal Mile – Emirates Stakes winning four-year-old Turn Me Loose in the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) on October 18.
Last time out Garud ran third again this time beaten just one and a quarter lengths by Awesome Rock at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day in the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m) as a 20/1 outsider.
That was his fourth 1800m run and his third third place finish over the distance he runs over again in the Eclipse Stakes on the weekend.
With the nice weight and good lead-up form Moroney, who prepared Brew for his 2000 Melbourne Cup win 15 years ago, is hoping to finally see the horse back in the winner’s stall.
“As he’s gotten older he’s a horse that needs to be kept fresh,” he told Racing Victoria.
“We’ve found that when we train him as a sprinter and restrict his races to under 2000m he’s coping with it really well.
“He’s got some form around really nice horses. It looks a good race for him and he’s going really well.”
Other notable Eclipse Stakes nominees this season include the John Sadler-trained Cranbourne Cup winner Digitalism, Group 2 Matriarch Stakes placed mare Casino Dancer, runner-up in the same mares’ only race Manageress and Brisbane-trained Sale Cup runner-up Harada Bay.
Moroney meanwhile also plans to saddle-up his Group 1 winning New Zealand expat In Style at the meeting in the weight-for-age $150,000 Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m).
A six-year-old daughter of Fast ‘N’ Famous, In Style debuted in Australian on October 10 but missed the kick in the Group 3 Northwood Plume Stakes (1200m).
Working well late, she couldn’t make up enough ground to finish better than ninth behind subsequent Myer Classic winner and Emirates Stakes second placed mare Politeness, Moroney hoping she can atone this weekend.
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