Cranbourne horseman Robbie Griffiths has an eye on a Royal Ascot bid in England later this year with his Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback racing for a King’s Stand Stakes 2016 bid at Caulfield this weekend.
The five-year-old Street Boss gelding scored the upset as a $21 roughie at Flemington on March 12 beating home Darren Weir’s Perth expat Black Heart Bart and superstar sprinter Chautauqua in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
He failed to go back-to-back in the Melbourne Group 1s a fortnight later however when beaten under one and a half-lengths to cross fifth to Flamberge in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) under the lights at Moonee Valley.
Griffiths keeps the $1.3 million earner in Victoria this weekend with The Quarterback to race in the lucrative $250,000 VOBIS Gold Sprint (1200m), which attracted a final field of 13 sprinters.
The Quarterback is drawn a treat in barrier five with jockey Matthew Allen replacing Craig Newitt in the saddle, the horse the current $2.60 short priced favourite to win through Ladbrokes.com.au.
His main dangers of returning to the winner’s stall include the lightly-raced Beneteau filly Almighty Girl ($5) who took out Moonee Valley’s Group 3 Typhoon Tracy Stakes (1200m) in late February, the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained mare Miss Promiscuity ($7) and Weir’s Exceed And Excel five-year-old Thermal Current ($9) who all come off last start victories.
“He gives me every indication that he should run as good as his last three runs,” Griffiths said of The Quarterback.
“His Oakleigh Plate sectionals were fantastic and that gave us confidence going into the Newmarket and he did us proud in the Newmarket and I think his performance in the William Reid was probably even better again.
“He blundered at the start, jumped up in the air and then had to go around the field at weight-for-age level and to get beaten as little as he did was quite amazing.”
Griffiths only concern is The Quarterback’s ability at Caulfield Racecourse where he has had five runs for one win, a second and a third to date.
“His style of racing is a bit vulnerable around Caulfield because it can be a bit tricky if you get out the back at Caulfield with traffic in front of you so I don’t think that we should be thinking that he should just win because he’s a Group 1 winner,” Griffiths explained.
“But certainly the weight scale is very much in his favour so that’s a big plus for us and he’s in good order.”
All going to plan and Griffiths would love to see The Quarterback embark on an international campaign this season taking on the best sprinters in the world at Royal Ascot in June’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1006m).
“Once we get all the figures of what it’s going to cost then we’ll weigh it all up, but I think it’s one of those ventures where you don’t look at the cost factor. Just the prestige of having a runner at Royal Ascot is very exciting,” he told Racing Ahead on Thursday morning.
The good prize money on offer in Melbourne in the VOBIS bonus races means Griffiths is happy to keep The Quarterback at home this weekend before an interstate run in Adelaide next month before the possible trip to England.
“We’re really hoping he holds his form together and we’d love to take him to Royal Ascot for the King’s Stand and that was one of the thought processes leading into the VOBUS gold race. It gave us a chance to miss an interstate trip,” he said.
“The money on offer is outstanding. When you throw in the extra VOBIS bonuses on top, I think its $280,000 so it’s definitely Group 2 prizemoney and is not far off some Group 1 events.
“For our case it suited us perfectly to have one less trip away from home and use this as a lead-in to The Goodwood.”
The $500,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) runs at Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide on May 21 and is a race Griffiths has saddled-up nine previous starters in for just the one second place finish to date.
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