Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
Top Perth horseman Fred Kersley is considering backing Operational up in the Strickland Stakes 2014 at Belmont Park this weekend after their smart win at the track last Saturday.
The Tiger Hill five-year-old continued their consistent autumn – winter campaign with their first win since Australia Day, Operational beating them home in the $60,000 Westspeed Stayers’ Handicap (2200m).
Allocated a hefty 61kg they got in with 59.5kg and were able to beat home Fancy Feet by nearly half a length while race favourite Ora Dare ran a credible third.
Now their Ascot-based trainer Kersley is looking at giving them another run at the same track but over less distance in this Saturday’s $125,000 Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m).
While the gelding is in top form, Operational hasn’t raced in Black Type company since the Listed Pinjarra Cup (2300m) at the end of March.
They had the outside barrier 16 draw that day, racing wide throughout to run a disappointing 14th and beat home just two of their rivals in the feature won by Malaika.
Before that they also ran wide from a double digit gate (12 of 15) in the Listed Bunbury Cup (2200m) but managed to finish a much better second with just half a length off them and the winner Classique Ivory.
Kersley said he was looking at a nomination and possible Strickland acceptance, but that the likely higher class of rivals and heavy weight allocation could rule them out.
“I’ll think about it,” he told The West Australian.
“He’s up in the weights in these races, but the only thing is he’ll be taking on the better horses in the Strickland.”
Last year’s Strickland Stakes winner was the then Adam Durrant-trained Kincaple who won the race second-up after an unplaced effort in the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) two weeks earlier.
This year’s Hyperion Stakes was won by hot favourite Elite Belle over Ranger and Grand Nirvana.
While Elite Belle is now in the paddock for a spell ahead of a Perth Summer Racing Carnival return targeting the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) in November, runner-up Ranger is likely to back-up in the Strickland.
Luckless in defeat in the Hyperion with just a long neck separating them and the winner, Testa Rossa seven-year-old Ranger gives trainer Durrant a chance of back-to-back Strickland Stakes trophies.
They also ran in the race last year backing up from a Hyperion third, when prepared by Grant Williams, to run sixth.
They’ve been with their new trainer since the start of the year and have had three runs, the Hyperion their first top three finish of 2014.
The Strickland Stakes 2014 nominations are due out shortly so stay tuned.
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