Back-to-back Group 1 winning sprinter this time in, Flamberge will debut for his new Flemington trainers Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra in Sydney’s 2016 TJ Smith Stakes this Saturday at Royal Randwick Racecourse.
The six-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding was previous prepared by Peter Moody who, facing a six month suspension for cobalt use, walked away from racing last weekend for an indefinite hiatus from the game.
One of Moody’s genuine stable stars this autumn, Flamberge was transferred to the care of Ellerton & Zahra by managing owner, Racing Victoria chairman David Moodie, and will have his first run for them this weekend in the $2.5 million Group 1 Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
The TJ Smith Stakes is one of four Group 1 features on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’, the weight-for-age classic attracting a final field of 15 hopefuls this autumn.
Sitting top of the line-up is the reigning TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua ($3.50) jumping from barrier 11 with last year’s winning hoop Tommy Berry aboard the Team Hawkes-trained star once again.
Flamberge can be found further down the TJ Smith Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au, which are led by three-year-old Exosphere ($2.80), paying $21 to keep his winning streak going.
First-up the now $1.7 million earner won Caulfield’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) from a wide barrier 15 of 17 draw in an upset as a $26 chance.
He then travelled to Moonee Valley last Thursday night and farewelled Moody in the best way possible by winning the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) by a short half-head.
Flamberge may be flying, but he hasn’t raced in Sydney since a disappointing 12th to Sweet Idea in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1000m) at Rosehill last March and he is yet to start at Randwick.
Also, only two TJ Smith Stakes winners in over 30 years have come off a non-Sydney lead-up with New Zealander Nom Du Jeu (2008) and Ethiopia (2012).
Damian Lane, who rode Flamberge to victory in the Oakleigh Plate before Brad Rawiller came on for the William Reid success, is back in the saddle on Saturday after his first TJ Smith Stakes winning ride.
Ellerton and Zahra are also yet to saddle-up a TJ Smith Stakes winner but have prepared a previous Group 1 champ for owner Moodie in 2010 Golden Slipper winning filly Crystal Lily six years ago.
Co-trainer Zahra said they hadn’t given Flamberge any work since he joined them, instead going to the paddock at Moodie’s stable for a quick freshen-up ahead of the TJ Smith Stakes test.
“Because he raced last Thursday and is backing up nine days later, it’s been about helping him get over the Valley run and get ready for Sydney,” Zahra told Racenet.
“He’s been in a paddock up at David’s farm just having a short break after the William Reid Stakes so we haven’t done anything really with him.
“He’s won Group I races at his last two starts so we know he’s flying.
“It’s just a matter of keeping him happy before he goes to Sydney on Thursday.”
To check out the full TJ Smith Stakes 2016 betting markets and to back Flamberge for the upset at double-figures, visit Ladbrokes.com.au now – home of Odds Boost!