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Godolphin hoop James Doyle will travel over from the UK at the end of the month to partner their returning galloper Chetwood in the Australia Stakes 2017 at Moonee Valley.
Twenty-eight-year-old Doyle is a regular rider for Saeed Bin Suroor-trained horses in England for the stable and is also no stranger down under.
While he has had a number of rides in Victoria at the Valley and Flemington Racecourse, the jockey will be chasing his maiden victory on Aussie turf in the $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) under the lights on Friday January 27.
His mount was in flying form last time in, the four-year-old son of Exceed And Excel posting four straight wins including the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1350m) at Newcastle in mid-September.
Last start Chetwood was seen putting two lengths on his closest rival Rough Justice when saluting for the punters as the odds-on favourite with James McDonald aboard at Caulfield in the Listed Weekend Hussler Stakes (1400m) on October 8.
The gelding, who has now won five of his seven starts and placed third in his other two runs, has trialled twice in Sydney this summer.
The latest hit-out was on January 5 over 1050m at Randwick, which produced a 1.5 length win with a final 600m sectional time of 35.60 on a Soft (7) track.
Chetwood looks spot on for his first-up start Friday week and will be one of two John O’Shea-trained sprinters in the Australia Stakes field.
O’Shea is also planning to accept for three-year-old Lonhro colt Peacock who Craig Williams will ride.
Peacock has enjoyed two wins from six starts and was last seen racing on Caulfield Cup Day taking out the Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m) by a narrow margin.
“Chetwood improved through the grades in the spring and has continued to please us this preparation,” O’Shea told Racing Victoria this week.
“He is up against the big boys now but I’m happy with where he is at.
“Peacock is a colt we’ve always had time for and he showed in the spring that he is up to this level.”
It is shaping up as a top edition of the Australia Stakes with a host of top class horses down to kick off their autumn bids in the Group 2.
Among the likely contenders are Murray Baker’s Group 1 winning Kiwi galloper Turn Me Loose who Kerrin McEvoy will ride, and the Darren Weir-trained duo of Black Heart Bart and Palentino.
Blackfriars six-year-old Black Heart Bart was last seen running a distant ninth when second last behind champion mare Winx in her historical Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) win on October 22.
He has a strong first-up record of three wins and a second from six resuming runs, and with winning form over as short as 1000m is a livewire chance in the Australia Stakes.
Stay tuned for all the latest on the upcoming Group races over the autumn and for the best betting markets visit Ladbrokes.com.au – home of Odds Boost (T&Cs apply).
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