After a first-up fourth to his star stablemate Winx in the weekend’s Chipping Norton Stakes, the Chris Waller-trained Preferment will head to Melbourne next-up for a shot at the Australian Cup 2016 at Flemington Racecourse on March 12.
Winner of the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last October at the famous Flemington track, Waller’s 2014 Victoria Derby winner Preferment kicked off his autumn prep last Saturday at Randwick in Sydney.
Running for the first time since his seventh to Highland Reel in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) in his maiden overseas run during December, the Zabeel four-year-old was far from disgraced in Saturday’s Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
Jockey Tommy Berry had the mount on the stallion who was only rated a $61 chance in betting dominated by Waller’s now four-time Group 1 winning mare Winx who saluted as the odds-on favourite once again.
Preferment eventually crossed fourth beaten four lengths and is tipped to improve when he returns to Flemington Saturday week in the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
The extra metres should suit the galloper who boasts two wins and a second from four previous runs over 2000m and Flemington also looks ideal as he has won two from three at the track to date.
Waller has saddled-up four previous Australian Cup runners for just the one third, something he hopes to change with Preferment this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
The last Australian Cup winner to come directly from a Sydney Chipping Norton Stakes run was also way back in 1996 when the great Octagonal completed the double for John Hawkes.
The Peter Young Stakes, formerly the St George Stakes, has historically been the best guide to the Australian Cup results including producing the past two winners.
This season’s edition of the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) also ran last Saturday, the weight-for-age Caulfield clash won by the $5 favourite Bow Creek for Godolphin and trainer John O’Shea.
It was the imported Shamardal stallion’s first win down under and saw the five-year-old shoot to the top of futures Australian Cup betting through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Bow Creek is now the firm $3.60 favourite in the all-in markets to complete the Peter Young Stakes – Australian Cup double last achieved by the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente in 2014.
Preferment then occupies the second line of Australian Cup odds at $6.50 as he looks to become the first four-year-old winner of the race since Sirmione (2008) and Pompeii Ruler (2007) went back to back.
Waller’s Chipping Norton winner Winx meanwhile is on track to run in the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships, Saturday April 9.
The champion mare never looked in danger winning the Group 1 last weekend second-up off her Apollo Stakes win at the track a fortnight earlier.
She is now on a seven straight winning streak and Waller is keeping options open as she heads towards the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which he has won twice before with My Kingdom Of Fife (2011) and Reliable Man (2013).
Next-up Winx will likely run in either the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) on March 19 or the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m) the following Saturday.
Waller though hasn’t completely ruled out the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) for the now $4.14 million earner, the handicap classic held the weekend before the Queen Elizabeth.
Winx is $2.10 to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the $7.50 second pick for the 2016 Doncaster Mile behind the fellow Waller-trained Press Statement ($6) who won the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) first-up on February 20.
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