After earlier calling his Victoria Derby winner Tarzino as a perfect Caulfield Cup horse, trainer Mick Price could be tempted to change the young champ’s spring campaign to target the Cox Plate 2016.
Price has plenty of Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival options to consider for his rising four-year-old son of Tavistock who has already won over $1.6 million in prize money.
A winner of four of his 10 career starts to date, the colt is best known for his Group 1 VRC Derby (2500m) triumph last Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington Racecourse.
In the autumn he put in plenty more eye-catching runs in elite level company including his Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) second to Palentino and win in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
Last start on April 2 at Royal Randwick he crossed fourth as the beaten odds-on favourite in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m), a run Price is hoping the horse can atone for when he returns for the spring.
An exact spring agenda and his Grand Final target is still up in the air with both the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and the following Saturday’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse being considered.
“I’m thinking the Caulfield Cup but the Cox Plate has got to be right there for him,” Price told Racing Victoria this week.
“I wouldn’t say no to anything but to win a Cox Plate I think he’d need to have the edge right on him and have a good deal of freshness.
“I know the Cox Plate can be a grinding race but if you run in the Caulfield Cup and then think you’re going to back up in a Cox Plate then you’re going to need to be pretty damn smart.”
Murray Baker’s since-retired Kiwi galloper Mongolian Khan won last year’s Caulfield Cup as a four-year-old, while that age group has dominated the Cox Plate results in recent years.
Five of the past six editions of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship have been claimed by four-year-olds including Adelaide (2014) and Winx (2015).
Price also has the world-renowned $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Flemington on Tuesday November 1 in the back of his mind for Tarzino should the young stayer go the Caulfield Cup option.
“If you do miss the Melbourne Cup and run in the Cox Plate that can then funnel into the Mackinnon too, so he does have a lot of options but once we get to the pointy end [of the spring carnival] we’ll make those sort of decisions based on how the horse is,” he said.
The last four-year-old Melbourne Cup winner was Shocking back in 2009.
The Mackinnon Stakes meanwhile will run this year as the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) on the first Saturday of November replacing the old Emirates Stakes, which has moved to Victoria Derby Day seven days earlier as the Group 1 Longines Mile (1600m).
Tarzino currently pays $17 as the second favourite behind Winx ($15) in the all-in Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
In futures Cox Plate betting, also led by Winx ($2.80), he is at a futures quote of $26 and pays a shorter $21 in pre-nomination Melbourne Cup markets to win the ‘race that stops a nation’.
As for first-up options for Tarzino, Price is reluctant to start him over anything shorter than a mile.
“I need to sit down today and plot a course with him and try and work out where we go first-up, 1400m is probably a waste of time,” Price said.
“I’m really happy with him. His temperament’s great, he’s put on the right amount of weight, he’s not too gross and he’s looking good.”
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