The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Graeme Rogerson may be focused on getting his star mare Scarlett Lady to the Melbourne Cup this spring, but he is also keeping a close eye on the preparation of his Queensland Derby winner Shootoff who is heading towards the 2011 Cox Plate.
Rogerson enjoyed a stunning Brisbane Winter Carnival, Scarlett Lady and Shootoff handing the dedicated horseman the Queensland Oaks – Derby double.
Now both of his winter stars are warming up for an ambitious Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Scarlett Lady to start in five consecutive Group 1 showdowns while Shootoff has the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 firmly in his sights.
A winner of four of his 17 career starts to date, Shootoff has amassed over $555,000 in prize money for connections including an elite level victory in the Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm last start on June 11.
Plans are for Shootoff to follow a non-traditional 2011 Cox Plate preparation contesting the weight-for-age races in Sydney possibly including the $175,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on August 20 and the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 3 before heading to Melbourne.
“He’ll run in the weight-for-age races in Sydney before going to Melbourne for the Cox Plate,” Rogerson said.
“He doesn’t have to improve much.
“He got the wrong leg in the Doomben Cup (fourth to Scenic Shot on May 21) when a horse kept coming out and bumping him.
“It was a very good run to finish fourth in that race before he won the Derby.”
Rogerson also said he would throw in a nomination for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1 but thought Shootoff might be 12 months away from a major Spring Cups campaign.
“I’ll nominate him for the Cups races as well but next year might be his year,” he said.
The trainer is hoping 2011 will be Scarlett Lady’s year, however, the Kiwi-trained daughter of Savabeel out to emulate the New Zealand champion Ethereal with a Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double victory.
Scarlett Lady will resume at home in the Group 1 Challenge Stakes at Hastings on August 27, facing off against fellow Melbourne Spring Carnival-bound gallopers including Wall Street and Jimmy Choux, before heading down under.
“She only had two and a half weeks off after the (Queensland) Oaks and she’s going to gallop between races before she returns in the Challenge Stakes,” Rogerson confirmed.
“She’ll be competitive in anything she runs in this campaign.
“She certainly is a pretty good filly and she looks good.
“She has put on some weight since the Oaks in Brisbane and after the Challenge Stakes she’ll go to Australia and run in the Underwood Stakes and then the Turnbull before the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.”
The $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) runs at Caulfield on September 17 followed by the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on October 2, which would be Scarlett Lady’s first look at the Flemington track that the iconic Melbourne Cup 2011 is run on.
“Scarlett Lady won the Travis and Breeders Stakes (in New Zealand) and has done everything we’ve asked of her,” Rogerson said.
“Her next five starts are all Group Ones and if she happened to go on to win the two Cup races then we can talk about her in the same breath as Ethereal.
“But Ethereal didn’t win the weight-for-age races in New Zealand before she went to Australia but she did win the two big Cups over there.
“I suppose she’s won more than Ethereal right now but she hasn’t won the two Cups yet.”
Pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets are lead by last year’s runner-up Maluckyday at $13, while Scarlett Lady is rated a $17 chance.
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