Robert Smerdon remains confident ahead of a Memsie Stakes Day return for his Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre later this month despite the galloper running last in a Cranbourne hit-out on Monday.
Excellent Art stallion Under The Louvre celebrated the biggest victory of his 29-start career to date during the winter in Brisbane winning the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
He jumped an 11/1 shot in Queensland’s richest race and held on narrowly to beat home the Darren Weir-trained Perth expat Black Heart Bart on the back of a second to the same horse in Adelaide’s Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) the month before.
Smerdon is now looking at an August 27 return at Caulfield Racecourse for his six-year-old with Under The Louvre likely to run first-up in the $150,000 Group 3 The Heath 1100 Stakes (1100m).
In his first public appearance since the Stradbroke Handicap success, the horse’s first victory since March last year, Under The Louvre ran last when fifth to Mossin’ Around in an 800m Cranbourne trial on a Heavy (8) track on Monday morning.
He may not have beaten home any other runner, but Smerdon was still pleased with the run and rates him a competitive hope for his end of month return in a race Under The Louvre ran fifth in behind Bounding last August.
That followed his third in the 2015 The Goodwood and led to his second at Flemington in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) and third to Stratum Star at Caulfield in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“Today was more about being a day out for him, an adrenalin rush, getting on the float and getting a bit of competition around him,” Smerdon told AAP post-trial on Monday.
“Ben Thompson had a positive report on him but the ground was a bit testing.
“He’ll come back here in a fortnight and have a more solid trial and then probably resume the Saturday after in The Heath Stakes.”
There is currently no set spring campaign for Under The Louvre this season with Smerdon finding it hard to place him after the Group 1 Stradbroke success that pushed up the horse’s ratings.
“We’re open minded with him,” Smerdon said.
“We’re thinking of maybe having a crack at the Manikato if he’s going good enough, but we haven’t locked into anything just yet.”
The $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) runs under the lights at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Cox Plate Eve, Friday October 21.
The traditional lead-up to the Manikato is the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at the same track the month before, which has produced two recent winners in Buffering (2nd in 2013) and Lankan Rupee (2014).
In the past seven years however two Maniakto Stakes winners hadn’t raced since a Stradbroke Handicap start the season before with Danleigh (2nd in 2009) and Sea Siren (9th in 2012).
Last year’s Manikato Stakes winner meanwhile was Chautauqua who came off a win in Flemington’s Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) a fortnight earlier.
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