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A title defence in The Goodwood 2016 is yet to be confirmed for the now Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra-trained Flamberge who failed to beat home any other runner in the TJ Smith Stakes last Saturday.
The Exceed And Excel six-year-old had been in flying form this autumn winning both the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) in Melbourne before his shot at the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
Last year’s winner Chautauqua was first home again in an impressive last-to-first effort while Flamberge fourth-up failed to let down on the Soft (6) track and crossed over 21 lengths away last (15th).
Co-trainer Zahra said the stable now had to assess what was next for Flamberge, previously prepared by Peter Moody, who had his first start for them in the TJ Smith Stakes.
After his tough weekend run the $1.72 million earner went back to the paddock of owner David Moodie of Contract Racing & Breeding Pty Ltd, and whether he stayed there until the spring or returned for a trip to Adelaide in May was still to be decided.
Last year Flamberge travelled to Morphettville Racecourse and won the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m), the $500,000 feature taking place on May 21 this season.
“He’s already back at Yungaburra,” Zahra told Racing Victoria.
“Just depending on how he pulls up will decide whether he heads on to the Goodwood or he has a spell.
“So we’ll know in the next couple of weeks where he’s at.”
Zahra said there were excuses for Flamberge’s TJ Smith Stakes failure and that he hadn’t been set for the race from the start of his campaign, but that the prize money had lured connections.
“He sort of knuckled the start and then got fired up and got on his wrong leg, so not a lot went right,” he said.
“He’s a genuine fresh horse, so it was a shot at the title but it wasn’t to be.
“It was a bit of an afterthought.
“When you’re offering that sort of money and you’ve got a horse in form, it’s always good to have a crack.
“He’s always a 3-4 weeks [between runs] sort of horse, and he’s got plenty of time to recover from that going into the Goodwood, depending on how he is in the next week or so.”
Zahra and Ellerton could also head to Adelaide for a Group 1 run with Miss Cooper in the Australasian Oaks (2000m) on May 7, the daughter of Medaglia D’Oro winning over 1600m at Sandown-Lakeside back in December.
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