Benalla horseman Russell Osborne is “hitting and hoping” for the best with his in-form mare Pretty Possum who chases her first black-type win in the 2016 Bel Esprit Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse on the weekend.
Last time out the six-year-old daughter of Hillman went to Adelaide for a shot at Morphettville’s Listed Manihi Classic (1100m), finishing under a length away third to Daytona Grey on April 9 as a $61 roughie.
Osborne with happy with her performance in the South Australian feature, which was Pretty Possum’s first black-type run since a fourth behind Wild Rain in the Listed Doveton Stakes (1000m) at Sandown last December.
“I’ve been watching Adelaide a bit recently and I thought it had been a bit weak, but the weekend I went over it was stronger,” Osborne told AAP this week.
“We weren’t far off the mark, we nearly got there.”
A 51-start veteran, Pretty Possum is set to line-up in another stakes race this weekend heading to Caulfield for the third time for the $120,000 Listed Bel Esprit Stakes (1100m).
She has won eight of her career runs to date, finishing in the top three a further 22 times, amassing $215,925 in prize money.
Hoping not only to get a black-type win on the board, Osborne also wants to get Pretty Possum’s first city win on the record.
“She’s won over $200,000 but hasn’t won a city race,” he said.
“She’s had two goes at the Listed level before for a third and a fourth and we’ve run that many seconds in normal races in town, but it’s hard to find a race to go in.
“They haven’t got the open flyings in the country anymore, so it restricts you and you have to go to town.
“And going to town, you need everything in your favour.”
The mare has had 10 starts over Saturday’s 1100m distance for two wins, three seconds and two thirds and Osborne believes it is her pet distance.
“She’s probably a couple of lengths off Saturday grade but what else do you do,” he said.
“We’re hitting and hoping.”
The Bel Esprit Stakes nominations feature 29 hopefuls this autumn with weights led by the Robert Smerdon-trained Under The Louvre (60kg).
The Excellent Art stallion kicks off a campaign that will see him contest races in three states, the five-year-old best known for third to Stratum Star in last September’s Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at the Caulfield track.
Under The Louvre hasn’t raced since mid-November, but Smerdon is confident the Bel Esprit Stakes is a winnable first-up race for the galloper heading towards a run in Adelaide’s $500,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) on May 21.
Last Adelaide Autumn Racing Carnival Under The Louvre was third to Flamberge in The Goodwood, the galloper current $7.50 equal second pick in futures betting for the event at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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