Sydney horseman Joe Pride is eyeing a first-up run in Moonee Valley’s Moir Stakes 2016 under the lights on September 30 for last year’s runner-up Ball Of Muscle this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The rising six-year-old son of Dubawi was second past the post behind dual champion Buffering (2013 & 2015) in last season’s $450,000 Group 1 A.J. Moir Stakes (1000m) and will be out to go one better this time in.
Last year Ball Of Muscle came off two earlier Sydney runs at Randwick in September when third to Shiraz in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) and second to Rebel Dane in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m).
He then went down only a half-length to Buffering in the Moir Stakes, but he will be out for success in that race first-up this campaign.
Ball Of Muscle hasn’t won a race since last year’s Group 2 QTC Cup (1200m) in Brisbane and his two latest starts produced disappointing unplaced efforts in Sydney back in March during the autumn.
His last run was an eighth to Griante at Rosehill in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m), form Pride is hoping the classy sprinter can atone for this spring.
“Ball Of Muscle comes back to the stable on Monday and he will go first-up into the Moir Stakes,” Pride told Racenet this week.
Longer term plans this coming spring – summer season for Ball Of Muscle is a trip west to Perth for the $1 million Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot Racecourse in November.
“We will also look at Perth and the Winterbottom with him,” Pride said.
Buffering also won both the 2013 and 2015 editions of the Winterbottom Stakes on the back of his earlier Moir Stakes successes, the same double Pride is hoping Ball Of Muscle to achieve this year.
Ball Of Muscle’s older half-brother Terravista meanwhile is still four weeks out from a return to the stable and is set for a quieter spring with Pride’s focus on the autumn with him.
The six-year-old son of Captain Rio has won 10 of his 22 career starts to date for just shy of $2 million in prize money, but hasn’t won a race since the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) last October at Randwick.
He finished third in last November’s Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival however when defending his title having won the race in 2014.
First-up in the autumn Terravista also caught the eye with a second to Chautauqua in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight in February, but he hasn’t finished in the money again since.
After a ninth in The Galaxy at Rosehill in March his last run produced a sixth behind Chautauqua in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 2 during Sydney’s ‘The Championships’.
“Terravista is another month from coming back and he may only have one run in the spring just to keep him up to the mark,” Pride said of the horse who has suffered notable hoof issues over his campaigns.
“We are looking at the autumn with him but I want him to have a preparation in the stable.
“The main thing is to get his feet right. He has a history of quarter cracks which needs to be managed and if we can, I think he has another couple of seasons racing at the top level.”
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