This Saturday the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained sprinter Churchill Dancer goes on trial for a 2016 Standish Handicap assignment at Flemington in January when he takes to the Moonee Valley track over 1000m.
A five-year-old son of Churchill Downs, the five-time winning gelding is one of 12 hopefuls running in Race 7 on Saturday in the $90,000 City Jeep Handicap (1000m) that is full of Group-bound gallopers.
Shaping up as an ideal early lead-up into $150,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) down the famous Flemington straight on New Year’s Day, the City Jeep Handicap field and weights are led by the Lindsay Park-raced Churchill Dancer with 60kg.
He drops in weight thanks to the three kilogram claim of apprentice Dylan Dunn however and is tipped to get the run of the race from a gun barrier two draw.
Odds on the City Jeep Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au have Churchill Dancer as the firming $3.90 favourite to post his first win since success at Flemington on September 12 with a narrow win in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m).
That followed from a nearly five length win over the 1200m at Moonee Valley where he returns this weekend on the back of a luckless seventh to Éclair Choice in the Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes (1200m) on Victoria Derby Day that was full of hard luck stories.
From that into this weekend’s race is a notable class drop for Churchill Dancer and one that co-trainer Hayes hopes will lead into a Standish run in the summer back in Group company.
“We’ve freshened him up after Flemington in the hope he should be well placed down the straight over summer,” Hayes told AAP this week.
“And this race fits in nicely.”
Also lining-up at the Valley for the stable on the back of a Group 2 run last time out is Flying Light who runs in the $80,000 Strathmore FC 2005 Premiers Handicap (1600m).
Moving into barrier five of 10 with two early scratchings from the Benchmark 70, Dwayne Dunn rides the progressive Exceed And Excel three-year-old who has won just one of his eight starts to date.
He lines-up at Moonee Valley for the first time on the back of four black-type assignments over the spring including his last start fifth to Mahuta in the Group 2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) over the same distance.
“He raced in a really hard part of the spring and I think he’ll flourish in summer,” Hayes said.
Flying Light is the $4.20 second pick in the markets for Moonee Valley Race 5 on Saturday behind the rails-drawn market mover Mihalic ($3.20) who also comes off a Sandown placing when second to Indarra in the Listed Twilight Glow Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago.
The other runners at the meeting for Hayes & Dabernig are the unraced Rampage in the first, Golden Mane with barrier one in the $50,000 Ranvet Handicap (1600m) and another runner the stable fancies nicely Faatinah.
Dunn rides the Nicconi three-year-old in the $80,000 McMahon’s Dairy Handicap (1200m) from barrier four with the gelding, third in the Listed Poseidon Stakes (1400m) at Flemington back on October 4, last seen crossing fourth to Invincible Heart over 1000m on Melbourne Cup Day.
“He’s really in good shape and I just want to keep going with him,” Hayes said.
“I think he’ll develop into a really good sprinter.”
To get behind the Hayes & Dabernig-trained runners in Melbourne this weekend at the best prices visit Ladbrokes.com.au now and sign-up quoting the code BETBONUS to enjoy up to $500 in bonus bets on the house as a first time depositing player!