Robert Smerdon’s smart stallion Under The Louvre will chase a Group 1 interstate double over the coming months with plans to run in Adelaide’s The Goodwood as a lead-up to the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane.
From three Group 1 assignments to date the five-year-old son of Excellent Art has three top three placings, but is yet to win at elite level.
His maiden top level run was at Caulfield in February of 2015 when runner-up to Shamal Wind in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
He then travelled to Morphettville Racecourse in South Australia later that year for a third to Flamberge in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m), the $500,000 feature run on May 21 this season and on the agenda again for Under The Louvre.
Smerdon is also looking to take his galloper to Queensland during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival chasing success in the state’s richest race, the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) running at Eagle Farm on June 11.
“The plan is he’ll go to the Goodwood in two weeks and then he’ll go to Brisbane,” Smerdon told the media this week.
The horse’s last Group 1 run was on September 26 last spring where he finished just a long-neck away third behind Stratum Star in a blanket finish in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
This weekend Under The Louvre returns to racing and returns to the Caulfield track for the eighth time.
He has to date won two of his eight Caulfield runs, also finishing second four times and third once in the Sir Rupert Clarke.
Last seen crossing fourth to Famous Seamus at Sandown-Hillside in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) in mid-November, the $665,900 earner has a solid first-up record (5-2-1-0) heading into his campaign kick-off on Saturday.
Smerdon has Under The Louvre racing in the $120,000 Listed Bel Esprit Stakes (1100m) where he is allocated the 60kg top weight.
Despite the kilos, Smerdon is confident the Bel Esprit is the right race to get the horse’s latest preparation underway before his trip to Morphettville.
“There was another option in Adelaide (on Saturday) but we always thought we’d run here and then head to the Goodwood,” the trainer said.
“He’s forward enough to win first-up because he’s had the [two] trials.
“He ran really well last year in the Goodwood. That’s where he’s at so he has to keep running at this level.”
Futures The Goodwood betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is currently led by the Darren Weir-trained Perth expat Black Heart Bart ($5.50) who ran a brave second to Gai Waterhouse’s filly English at Randwick in last Saturday’s Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m).
Three horses then following in the all-in The Goodwood odds at $7.50 with Ciaron Maher’s consistent filly Petits Filous, upset Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback and Under The Louvre.
Smerdon chases a third The Goodwood win having prepared previous winners Bomber Bill (2003) and Lone Rock (2011).
He has had two previous runners in the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane without success, but is out to chance that this winter with Under The Louvre a $26 roughie in the markets led by Malaguerra ($4.60).
Mark Zahra returns to the saddle of Under The Louvre in the Bel Esprit Stakes this weekend.
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