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W.A. horseman Lindsey Smith has his sights set high this spring with his weekend winner Scales Of Justice possibly Melbourne bound to take on Winx in the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
The Railway Stakes winning four-year-old enjoyed his third mile win from as many starts over the distance at Belmont on Saturday, scoring an easy three length victory as the odds-on favourite in the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) over the Grant & Alana Williams-trained roughie Zarantz ($71).
Immediate Belmont Winter Racing Carnival plans are to shoot for a stakes double, the son of Not A Single Doubt returning to the track in a fortnight for the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Yet to win over further than 1600m, the Strickland Stakes will be an early test to see whether the Group 1 winner is up to a trip east this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival eyeing a run in the $3 million Group 1 Ladbrokes W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) on October 28.
“I want to see him do it and if he does, and I’m of the belief he will, then it’s highly likely we will come to Melbourne for the spring,” Smith told the Herald Sun on Sunday.
“If he can run out the 2000m it’s more than likely he’ll come.
Of course, this year’s 2017 Cox Plate field is set to be dominated by the world’s best Winx who looks to recreate the history of Kingston Town (1980-82) with a third straight victory in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
The presence of the Hall of Fame mare hasn’t deterred Smith however who would love to see Scales Of Justice line-up against a racehorse of Winx’s calibre.
“I’d like to race against Winx. I’m not expecting him to beat her but if he could finish second or third that’s good enough for me,” he said.
“He mightn’t be good enough if Winx is in it but we enjoy racing this horse and we’re up for the challenge.
“We’d go in a race like the Cox Plate and hope he’d be competitive. I would be proud just to have him in the race.”
Smith also named the weight-for-age Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m), formerly known as the Mackinnon Stakes, during the Flemington Melbourne Cup Carnival as another possible spring option for Scales Of Justice.
“His managing-owner Chris Wells may be keen to enter him in the Melbourne spring carnival’s Cox Plate and MacKinnon Stakes [sic],” Smith said.
“Perth horses have been very competitive in recent times in the Eastern States and he’s the best of the lot of them.
“He’s the sort of horse who could run over a mile first-up. My aims would be the Cox Plate and the Emirates Stakes with him.”
Jockey Daniel Staeck, aboard for the horse’s weekend win, said he believed the 2000m was not outside of Scales Of Justice’s range.
“Judging by the way he won today, he’ll strongly run out the Strickland distance,” he said on Saturday.
The options remain wide open for Scales Of Justice who could alternatively stay home for a Perth Summer Racing Carnival bid looking to atone for his luckless second to Stratum Start at Ascot in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) last December.
“Going forward, I see three options for him,” Smith said.
“We could stay home to specifically aim at the Railway and Kingston Town again.
“Alternatively, he could go to Melbourne in spring, before tackling the carnival here.
“He’s also been inoculated, keeping open an option to race in Hong Kong later this year.
“But I think a Hong Kong trip is unlikely.”
Winx is already at $1.50 in futures Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, while Scales Of Justice sits as a $34 chance in all-in odds for the Moonee Valley classic.
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