Mick Price will instruct Tarzino’s 2016 Turnbull Stakes jockey on Sunday to race closer to the speed at Flemington in an attempt to get the four-year-old back in winning form this spring.
Winner of the Group 1 VRC Derby (2500m) as a three-year-old at the track last Melbourne Cup Carnival, the now four-year-old Tavistock stallion has one just one race since.
Third-up in the autumn the class stayer saluted in Sydney’s Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on the back of a second to Palentino in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
He rounded out that prep with a fourth as the beaten odds-on favourite in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) and has been unplaced in his three runs this time in.
Price knows his dual Group 1 champ is better than his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign record reads: Memsie Stakes (8th), Makybe Diva Stakes (10th), Underwood Stakes (8th).
The galloper’s regular rider Craig Newitt got the horse to settle mid-field two back in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) on September 10, but without a clear run got out-sprinted late and only managed to finish six lengths off the Darren Weir-trained winner Palentino.
Last weekend Tarzino raced in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield with Newitt aboard with the blinkers on.
The hot speed didn’t suit and again the horse was well out of the money beaten over seven lengths by Weir’s Makybe Diva Stakes runner-up Black Heart Bart.
Tarzino is now on the quick eight day back-up into the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes over 2000m, and along with the extra metres suiting the proven stayer, Price is hoping a more forward run can get him back to winning form in the set weight plus penalties race.
“Those weight-for-age races aren’t suiting him,” Price told Racing Victoria.
“He’s out the back … it would be nice to be a bit more tactical and be within striking distance in the race.
“Where he was in the Underwood, when they put the foot down … with The Cleaner spreading them out, and Jacquinot Bay taking them up … he’s not making that ground and running those sectionals.
“But he’s going well, and we’re looking forward to the Turnbull on Sunday. Hopefully we draw a gate to put him up there and in the race a bit more.
“We came to this position as an autumn three-year-old in the Rosehill Guineas, I didn’t want to get back on him then – banged him out of the gates, and he wins.”
Last year’s Turnbull Stakes winner was the Chris Waller-trained four-year-old Preferment (2015) who came off a win in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) in Sydney.
Preferment is back to defend his title on Sunday carrying 59kg, a notable rise on his 56.5kg winning weight in the race 12 months ago after his subsequent Group 1 wins in the Australian Cup and The BMW over the autumn.
The now five-year-old son of Zabeel also needs to improve on his last start fifth in this year’s Hill Stakes from September 17 won by Hartnell.
The flying John O’Shea-trained Hill Stakes winner Hartnell, who also won the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) two back by 7.8 lengths, is the short-priced $2.30 favourite in pre-field Turnbull Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Preferment is at $19 to win again, while Tarzino is a $34 roughie in all-in Turnbull Stakes odds.
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