The 2016 Brisbane Cup on Stradbroke Handicap Day in June looks an ideal target for the gorgeous Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained import Guardini who broke his maiden status down under in the JRA Plate at Royal Randwick on All Aged Stakes Day.
The five-year-old Dalakhani grey had his fourth run in Australia on the last day of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with Hugh Bowman aboard in the $150,000 Group 3 Japan Racing Association Plate (2000m).
On the back of a good second in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) over the same distance at Caulfield on March 26, the five-year-old showed lovely improvement in his first Sydney assignment to hold off a class field of stayers.
After a failed debut down under off a tough international trip when 12th in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) last October behind Almoonqith, the horse went out for a spell with the Freedmans taking their time to get the French expat back to his best.
He was a first-up sixth in the Group 3 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington before the Easter Cup second, and was better again in winning the JRA Plate.
“There was a bit of improvement in him today,” co-trainer Lee Freedman said after the win.
“He’s coming into himself now. He’s a high class horse and I think there’s a good further for him.
“He’s done absolutely brilliant since (Geelong) and I think his run in the Easter Cup put the mark up on the board that he was getting ready to do something like this.”
Bowman rode the horse when he first arrived in Australia at Werribee in the spring, and again in a track galloper this week leading into the Randwick run, and was impressed with Guardini’s actions.
“He’s a beautiful looking horse and I had the luck of galloping him at Werribee in the spring time,” Bowman said.
“He gave me a really good fell and obviously Anthony and Lee have taken their time with him and he presented here today in top order.”
Things didn’t go exactly to plan in the JRA Plate for the eventual winner, Bowman having to race wide without cover as Messene rolled to the front to lead the field around.
Guardini was covering plenty of ground wide in a mid-field position just behind the favourite Havana Cooler who was tracking well in the run.
On the straight Weary went forward with the likes of Sadler’s Lake, but Guardini ($5.50) quickly put himself into position coming hard down the outside.
Bowman went for home on the beautifully presented import, hitting the line first one and a half lengths away from the Chris Waller-trained veteran Index Linked ($21) with the favourite Havana Cooler ($4.80) third past the post with James McDonald aboard.
“I was pretty confident,” Bowman admitted.
“He had to sit wide without cover, but he was in a beautiful rhythm throughout and was very dominant late.”
As for next-up plans, Bowman said he would be well placed in the $300,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse on June 11 before a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign targeting the elite staying features like the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.
“It was dominant today,” he said.
“Whether they go to the Brisbane Cup. He would be well placed in that race I would have thought.
“There’s also a smorgasbord of races for him during the spring.
“Whether he’s up to the top class, time will tell, but he’s certainly got the action to suggest he’s a Group 1 horse.”
Freedman confirmed the 2016 Brisbane Cup was definitely on their radar.
“He’s definitely a Brisbane Cup horse,” he said.
“This is great to get him to form.”
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2016 JRA Plate Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 8 – 16/04/2016
|1||3||GUARDINI (FR)||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Hugh Bowman||–||13||57kg||$5|
|2||8||INDEX LINKED (GB)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||1.5L||4||56.5kg||$21|
|3||4||HAVANA COOLER (IRE)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||1.8L||2||57kg||$4.40F|
|4||6||BEYOND THANKFUL (IRE)||Chris Waller||Chris O’Brien||2.5L||6||56.5kg||$41|
|5||10||RUDY||Helen Page||Sam Clipperton||3.6L||1||55kg||$8|
|6||13||CASINO DANCER||Mike Van Gestel||Thomas Huet||3.7L||3||54kg||$16|
|7||7||HAWKSPUR||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||4.3L||8||56.5kg||$11|
|8||9||WEARY (FR)||Chris Waller||Christian Reith||6L||10||56.5kg||$15|
|9||5||MORIARTY (IRE)||Chris Waller||Tye Angland||7.5L||11||57kg||$21|
|10||2||MESSENE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||8L||9||58kg||$9|
|11||11||SADLER’S LAKE||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||12.4L||5||55kg||$7.50|
|12||14||HIPPOPUS (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||16.3L||12||54kg||$13|
|13||1||TERRUBI (IRE)||Kris Lees||Brenton Avdulla||23.1L||7||59kg||$31|
|–||16||SENSE OF OCCASION||Tony McEvoy||Kerrin McEvoy||–||0||–||–|
|–||17||MAURUS (GB)||David Vandyke||Blake Spriggs||–||0||–||–|
|–||12||AOMEN (IRE)||Anthony Cummings||Mitchell Bell||–||0||–||–|
|–||15||MAGICOOL||Chris Waller||Jay Ford||–||0||–||–|