Moonee Valley’s Australia Stakes 2016 later this month is shaping up as the most likely next-up target for the flying Durendal who took out the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
The Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra-trained Medaglia D’Oro four-year-old made it three wins on the trot and back-to-back victories at Flemington with his three-quarter length win in the Standish Handicap on January 1 over Zupacharged.
He has now won seven from 16 overall and looks on track to rise in class next time out with the $200,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on the agenda on January 23.
His Standish Handicap win was a tough effort and co-trainer Ellerton told Racing Ahead the gelding would spend a well-deserved week in the paddock before his late summer return.
“We’ll just see how he goes when he comes back – he may well take his place in the Australia Stakes,” Ellerton said.
“That’s a whole new ball game for him at weight-for-age.”
Durendal’s last unplaced effort was his fifth over 1400m at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, and Ellerton couldn’t be happier with the horse’s improvement since.
“He ran Cup day and we walked away disappointed, but he’s certainly made up for that,” he said.
“The more racing he’s done, the better he’s got.”
Last year’s Australia Stakes was won by Mourinho, subsequent winner of the spring’s Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Mourinho also backed up from his Australia Stakes win to run third to Dissident next start at Caulfield Racecourse in the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m), the $400,000 weight-for-age feature also a possible target for Durendal on February 13 this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Durendal was one of four Flemington New Year’s Day winners for the local training duo, Ellerton crediting the success to in-form stable jockeys Damian Lane and Katelyn Mallyon.
“Good rides are always helpful,” he said.
“Damian has made a great transition from apprentice to senior rider to probably one of Victoria’s top riders.
“Katelyn is on her way to trying to achieve that, she’s out of her time next week, she’s out-ridden her claim and I’m sure she’ll make a good fist of it.”
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