The Ron Quinton-trained Royal Celebration is one...
New Zealand-based co-trainer Stephen Autridge is hoping the stable’s multiple Group 1 winner Xtravagant can atone for his first-up last at Flemington with a better run in Caulfield’s 2016 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes this weekend.
The Pentire stallion has won six of his 11 starts to date including the 2015 NZ 2000 Guineas and the NRM Sprint this February in elite company back in New Zealand.
The Kiwi visitor won again on April 30 in the Group 3 Breeders Stakes (1200m) before travelling down under for the second time.
His first run in Australia produced a disappointing eighth to Palentino in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) as a three-year-old back on March 5 in the autumn.
He also failed to turn up in his return trip to Flemington on September 10, beating home no rivals when dead last crossing over 27 lengths back for 12th behind Faatinah in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m).
Autridge, who trains in partnership with Jamie Richards at Matamata, said there was no known excuses for Xtravagant’s failed first-up run.
“You watch the replay – he was on the wrong leg and refused to change,” Autridge told Racing Ahead on RSN 927 this week.
“For whatever reason, we don’t know.
“He couldn’t run it out. Damien [Oliver] thought there might’ve been something wrong, that’s why he sat on him.
“That’s why he weakened out.”
The horse was vetted post-race and nothing of note turned up.
He trialled on Monday at Cranbourne and jockey Damien Oliver guided him to a cruising fourth behind Coronation Shallan over 1190m on a Heavy (9) track to help tune him up ahead of his Caulfield run on Saturday in the $500,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
“He was vetted at the races that afternoon [after the Bobbie Lewis], and they couldn’t find a thing wrong with him. We couldn’t find a thing wrong with him,” Autridge said.
“So we decided we better trial him to make sure, so yesterday was a good result so we just have to carry on.”
In an attempt to get Xtravagant back to his best, Autridge confirmed stewards had granted the team permission to load the horse “first-in, first-out” in the barriers for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
“We’ve been given permission from the stewards to be first-in, first-out,” he said, also confirming the galloper won’t be seen in a pre-race parade in the yard.
“Once you get to the barriers, he’s pretty good.
“If we can help him there, it might be all that we need.”
A star-studded line-up is expected for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes this season with the likes of Under The Louvre, Counterattack and Voodoo Lad in the mix.
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