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Co-trainer Lee Freedman is hoping a drop back to 1000m won’t prove too sharp for the stable’s 2015 City Of Greater Dandenong Stakes runner at Sandown Hillside on Saturday Java.
The four-year-old son of Medalia D’Oro has had 11 runs to date for four wins and two thirds with success up to 1400m.
He is yet to run over anything shorter than 1100m however and how he handles the short-distanced sprint in Melbourne this weekend will be key to the gelding’s winning chances in the $120,000 Listed City Of Dandenong Stakes (1000m).
Formerly known as the Doveton Stakes, this year’s handicap clash features a final field of 15 with markets at Ladbrokes.com.au led by the Mark Kavanagh-trained daughter of Manhattan Rain Wild Rain ($4.60) and the rails-drawn Tuscan Sling ($4.80) for Melbourne Cup winning horseman Darren Weir.
Java is further down the odds at $12 after suffering an early blow with a wide barrier 14 (of 15) draw for jockey Ben Melham to overcome.
Melham rode the up-and-comer for three straight races from March – October including a third to Setinum in the Listed Bendigo Guineas (1400m) in the autumn and his first-up third behind Fell Swoop in the Listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in September.
Last time out Dwayne Dunn had the mount at Sandown Hillside, where Java has won two from three to date ahead of his return there on the weekend, for a sixth to Famous Seamus in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) on November 14 while Melham served a suspension.
Java was also fourth to Dissident in mid-February in the Group 2 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) beaten just over three lengths and is himself a Group 3 winner in the Manfred Stakes (1300m) at Sandown Hillside from Australia Day back in January.
The class is there and to help him thrive over the short distance, Freedman will instruct Melham to ride the horse midfield off the pace.
He was up and leading the field in his two most recent assignments when fading late to finish out of the placings, but when held back more first-up win the Testa Rossa the result was there for all to see.
“I thought it was a handy field [on Saturday] without being top notch,” Freedman told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I’ve never really run him over 1000m. He won his maiden over 1100m.
“I just thought the tempo of an open stakes 1000m race at Sandown will suit the horse, getting back off the speed.
“He’s been on the speed all spring, but I think he’s better ridden off the speed.”
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