A good barrier draw will assist Champagne...
Co-trainer Stephen Autridge is unsure how the stable’s visiting Cox Plate-bound Kiwi Xtravagant will handle the famous Flemington straight for his first-up run of the spring in Melbourne’s Bobbie Lewis Quality on Saturday.
The long-range Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival target for the Matamata-trained Pentire four-year-old is the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
The horse, prepared by Autridge and Jamie Richards, was last seen winning the Group 3 Breeders Stakes (1200m) back home in NZ at Te Rapa by nearly three lengths in late April.
That was his sixth career win from 10 starts, his highlights so far being Group 1 victories in the NZ 2000 Guineas last November and the NRM Sprint over 1400m this February by 8.5 and 8 lengths respectively.
Xtravagant travelled to Melbourne during the autumn for a failed one-hit raid at Flemington when 4.5 lengths away eighth behind Palentino in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) as the beaten favourite when fading late after leading from the jump.
He is back at the track first-up on the weekend over less distance, and in a bid to have him in the finish Autridge confirmed instructions to jockey Damien Oliver would be not to lead down the straight.
“I don’t really know [if he will handle the straight],” Autridge told Racing Victoria.
“The fact we’re not going to lead on him this time, we’re going to put him in behind a couple.
“I think the straight six will suit better possibly than Moonee Valley would have [first-up].”
Original plans were to start Xtravagant at Moonee Valley last Saturday, but he had an elevated temperature and was not accepted for the Listed Chandler Macleod Stakes (1200m) on Dato’ Day.
Autridge is happy with the horse’s quick recovery and said a final piece of work on Tuesday morning by Oliver had him ticking over nicely.
“He did a little bit of fast work on Saturday morning with Kerry [Jones], our trackwork rider, and she said he was terrific,” he said on Monday.
Twenty gallopers are nominated for the Bobbie Lewis Quality this season with pre-field markets led by the Robert Smerdon-trained Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre who ran a first-up second to Redzel in the Group 3 The Heath (1100m) a fortnight ago.
Xtravagant is hot on his heels in the all-in Bobbie Lewis Quality odds at $4.40.
Check out the pre-field markets below to lock in your early Bobbie Lewis Quality 2016 tips before the field is released on Wednesday.
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