A Cox Plate 2016 bid for Toorak Handicap withdrawal Tosen Stardom is off the cards with trainer Darren Weir and connections now focusing on having the Japanese import in full fitness for a Melbourne Cup Carnival run.
The six-year-old Deep Impact stallion debuted for Weir on September 3 running fourth to Awesome Rock in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), but missed out on a subsequent run a fortnight later.
He was heading up to Sydney for a shot at the $500,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), subsequently won with ease by Australia’s best race horse Winx, when he injured himself on the float.
Ongoing issues surrounding that setback forced the horse to undergo treatment on Thursday afternoon and his subsequent scratching from this Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse.
“He’s sound as a bell, [Darren] just said, ‘Another week and I’d be feeling a lot more comfortable,” Australian Bloodstock‘s Jamie Lovett told Racing Victoria on Friday.
“We’ve come this far with him, we just don’t want to run with any doubts at all.
“It’s been a bit frustrating, but you’d rather pull them out then go to the races and have them disappoint with an excuse.”
The Toorak was to serve as a tune-up run ahead of the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22, but the team are now turning to ‘Plan B’.
Tosen Stardom will miss a run against the defending champ Winx and runaway Turnbull Stakes winner last start Hartnell in the Cox Plate field, instead being saved for a Flemington run during the Cup Carnival.
He will run in either the $1 million Group 1 Longines Mile (1600m) on Derby Day, October 29, or in the following Saturday’s new-look $2 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) – formerly the Mackinnon Stakes.
“We’ve come this far, the Cox Plate’s out the window anyway, so whether we go to an Emirates Mile or Mackinnon,” Lovett said.
“We’re just going to assess again on Monday.”
Weir has won the past two editions of the Toorak Handicap with Lucky Hussler (2015) and Trust In A Gust (2014).
He is still represented in the field on Saturday by the flying Royal Rapture ($8) chasing a sixth win on the trot.
Weir’s best hope of a maiden Cox Plate trophy now lies in Black Heart Bart, the last start Underwood Stakes winner taking on Winx in Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) as part of a diminutive three-starter field.
Winx ($2) and Hartnell ($3) are battling for top spot in futures Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, while Blackfriars six-year-old Black Heart Bart is at $15 to score the upset.
The 2016 Longines Mile nominations close on Monday October 17, while early entries for the Emirates Stakes are taken on October 31.
To back Weir’s spring contingent over the coming weeks at the right price make sure you’ve got an account open and ready to go at Ladbrokes.com.au.