One of the 11 international invitees for the 2016 Cox Plate this spring passed the first hurdle on way to a possible trip to Melbourne with the Roger Charlton-trained Time Test winning at York over the weekend.
The smart Dubawi stallion had jockey Pat Smullen aboard again for Saturday’s Group 2 York Stakes (2011m) and the duo combined for a three-quarter length win for the punters as favourite in the 10 furlong feature.
It was an improved run for Time Test who came off a third at Sandown to Hawkbill after an earlier may victory in the Group 3 Gerard Stakes (2011m), but still a narrower than expected result.
Just one Group 1 winner lined-up in the small five-horse York Stakes field this season, and that galloper Mondialiste hit the lead over the final two furlongs.
Smullen was stalking the front runner aboard the eventual winner, Time Test travelling nicely but having to dig deep to run down and defeat the gutsy runner-up Mondialiste who didn’t go down without a fight.
Beckhampton House Stables’ Charlton and connections are now weighing up options for Time Test who could head down under for a shot at Australasia’s weight-for-age championship with the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) taking place at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 22.
Charlton is yet to saddle-up a Cox Plate starter, but Smullen has had a previous ride in the classic, and said Time Test would only improve off his weekend win.
“He’s still an immature horse. He travelled extremely well throughout the race. In fact, they couldn’t lead me any longer going by the two-furlong marker,” the winning hoop told the Sporting Life.
“I was in front plenty long enough on him and he got a little bit lonely, but, at the end of the day, he’s battled off a Group 1 winner who had his ideal conditions as well.
“That should put him right for back here in three weeks.”
The return to York will see Time Test attempt back-to-back Group 1s in the Juddmonte International (2092m), a race he finished fourth behind Arabian Queen in last August.
Currently Time Test pays $61 as an outside hope in the pre-nomination Cox Plate betting odds at Ladbrokes.com.au led by Chris Waller’s defending champ, Winx ($2.80).
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