Lee Freedman is pleased with the condition of Java in the lead-up to Saturday’s Listed Bel Esprit Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, but concedes the four-year-old faces a big task in success against a talent-rich field, first-up.
Java experienced something of a meteoric rise to prominence as a three-year-old through the 2015 edition of the Autumn Carnival, highlighted by an impressive performance amongst open company for fourth in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) in February.
While understandably impressed with that performance, Freedman told Racing Ahead the result has somewhat plagued Java’s racing career since, but is hopeful targets between carnivals will see the horse return to winning form.
“Running a three-year-old in the Orr, I think if you run one it’s got to be one of the very best that can win it,” Freedman said.
“He attracted a pretty high rating and has had to deal with that ever since.
“Hard tracks really came against him in the spring, then he came back into work and had a little injury which is fine now, and has had a couple of trials down the coast and is ready for Saturday.
“I think the offseason racing through May, June and July is going to suit him and hopefully the track will be a bit more forgiving.”
Freedman is confident Java can perform well in the 2016 Bel Esprit Stakes, but believes the horse may need a run to return to peak condition.
“It’s a very strong field and he usually takes a run to get to his form. He did run well and it would surprise me, but he’s got a bit of an awkward draw,” he said.
“He’ll improve as the races get a little bit softer I think.”
Resuming in the closing stages of 2014, Java won three-consecutive Victorian sprints before making a successful transition to black type company with success in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1300m) a fortnight prior to his impressive CF Orr Stakes performance.
Having returned to the paddock that season after finishing third in the Listed Bendigo Guineas (1400m), the Medaglia D’oro gelding resumed in spring for third in the Listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m), but could only manage mid-pack finishes in each of his next two starts and returned to the paddock after placing tenth in the Listed City Of Greater Dandenong Stakes (1000m).
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