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Co-trainer Leon Corstens is weighing up first-up options for the stable’s Australian Cup sob story Awesome Rock who could resume in next month’s PB Lawrence Stakes 2016.
Corstens said either the $200,000 Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on August 13 or the $500,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at the same track and distance a fortnight later would see the return of the Fastnet Rock stallion.
A rising five-year-old Awesome Rock has just the two runs on his record from 19 starts to date, but has more than held his own in elite level company over the seasons.
He is best known for his devastatingly close win over the Chris Waller-trained Preferment in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 21 this autumn, which he lost on protest.
First past the post by the barest of margins on the line, the Australian Cup finish was reversed and Awesome Rock was denied a Group 1 success and officially placed second.
The Australian Cup loss was followed by a disappointing last by Awesome Rock who failed to beat home any of his rivals for a 14th behind Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 9.
Spelled after the Queen Elizabeth failure, the galloper is nearing a spring return where he’ll be chasing his first win since the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day last November.
Last year’s PB Lawrence Stakes winner Mourinho won the weight-for-age clash first-up before a win in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) back at Caulfield the following month.
The Memsie Stakes is also a weight-for-age clash and serves as a lead-up to Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October.
The 2016 Cox Plate on October 22 is possible longer-term plan for Awesome Rock.
Current all-in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is led by Waller’s reigning champion Winx ($2.80) through Ladbrokes.com.au who is looking to go back-to-back in the classic for the first time since So You Think (2009-10).
The last mare to win successive Cox Plates was Sunline (1999-2000).
Awesome Rock is listed further down the futures Cox Plate odds as a $101 roughie.
Two of the past five Cox Plate winners scored a notable upset as double-figure roughies in betting with Pinker Pinker ($25 in 2011), the last mare before Winx to beat home the boys, and Shamus Award ($20) who was the first three-year-old champ since Savabeel (2004).
The biggest upset Cox Plate result in recent times was the win of Bart Cummings’ champion mare Dane Ripper who saluted at 40/1 in 1997.
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