A Moonee Valley gallop on Tuesday morning has John O’Shea’s smart three-year-old Holler ready to tackle the older horses first-up in the 2016 Australia Stakes at the track this weekend.
A final field of 13 weight-for-age hopefuls face off in the $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) on Saturday with two three-year-old colts getting in on 55kg.
Team Hawkes saddle-up Golden Rose fourth placegetter Rageese in barrier nine who was last seen running fifth in the Caulfield Guineas in October while the Godolphin stable are represented by Commands colt Holler in gate eight.
Craig Williams has the ride on Holler who hasn’t raced since his win over Brockhoff at the Moonee Valley track in the Group 3 Red Anchor Stakes (1200m) on Cox Plate Day last spring.
A dual winner from seven career starts, Holler was last when eighth in a Randwick trail over 1050m in late December but looked fitter in a nice piece of work on Tuesday morning at Moonee Valley.
Partnering with Inner Circle over 1000m he completed the gallop in 1:07.32 including a final 400m sectional in 24.64 seconds impressing Godolphin’s Melbourne foreman David Charles.
“He has come down from Sydney in great order and his work this morning was very nice,” Charles told Racenet on Tuesday.
“He’s had a trial in Sydney. John (O’Shea) is very happy with him and thankful to Moonee Valley he was able to come here and give him a gallop.
“Very happy with the progress he has made. He’s very fit and it’s a jump in grade on Saturday but he won very well here.
“We’re looking forward to taking on the older horses in what looks like being a strong race.”
Four Group 1 winners headline the Australia Stakes field this summer including the defending champion Mourinho in gate two with Vlad Duric aboard once more.
Gary Portelli’s Rebel Dane returns in barrier six, the Phillip Stokes-trained 2014 Emirates Stakes champ Hucklebuck is also first-up but wide in gate 11 and Trust In A Gust for Darren Weir rounds out the top-level winners in the mix.
Along with Mourinho the other previous Australia Stakes winner looking to emulate Black Caviar who won the race on non-consecutive years in 2010 and 2012 is the Paul Beshara-trained Richie’s Vibe from South Australia.
The stablemate that worked with Holler at the Valley on Tuesday morning, Street Cry three-year-old Inner Circle is also accepted to run on Australia Stakes Day this weekend in Melbourne.
A winner of one of his seven starts when successful in his Rosehill debut in February last year, the horse is engaged in the $80,000 Hille’s home Extensions Handicap (1200m).
Nine three-year-olds make up the field for the sprint handicap with Williams riding Inner Circle from barrier eight, the line-up led by Damien Oliver’s ride Irish Saturday coming off winning form at Warrnambool.
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