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ATC Derby placegetter Hardham will target Group 1 races over 2000m or less including a possible 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate tilt this spring, ruling out a Melbourne Cup bid for the progressive four-year-old.
Mornington trainer David Brideoake has all but confirmed Saturday week’s Group 1 $1 million Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on September 2 as the spring kick off for his Redoute’s Choice stallion.
That will follow a Tuesday morning jump out at Caulfield, his second serious piece of work ahead of his resuming run.
“Hardham has already had one jump out at Pakenham, which he went very well in, and he goes to Caulfield in the morning for another one,” Brideoake told Racing Victoria on Monday afternoon.
“Then he’ll probably kick off in the Memsie.”
All-in Memsie Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are a wide open affair.
Currently the defending champion Black Heart Bart, who resumed with a P.B. Lawrence third last Saturday, is the equal $6.50 co-favourite with Vega Magic.
Former W.A. galloper, the now Lindsay Park-trained Vega Magic has won his past three starts on the trot including the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) sprint feature in Adelaide and last weekend’s Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) where he defeated Darren Weir’s gun Japanese import Brave Smash.
Brideoake though believes a more mature Hardham has plenty of ability to match it with those top gallopers first-up and beyond this campaign.
“He’s going as well as he’s ever gone. He’s furnished into a beautiful, big horse now and he’s made the improvement from an autumn three-year-old into a spring four-year-old,” Brideoake said.
From there the galloper’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign will see him extend only up to a middle-distance range, ruling him out of either the Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup 2017.
During the autumn as a three-year-old Hardham showed a genuine ability to stay backing up from a Moonee Valley win in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) to place under a length back third behind Kiwi young gun Jon Snow in Randwick’s Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m).
With the Derby run on a Heavy (8) track, there were talks that this time in Hardham may be extended back out to a mile and a half or more.
Brideoake however has since expressed his belief that the horse is more effective over 1400m – 2000m, opening up a shot at the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at the Valley on October 28.
“You’d love to see him get to one of those quality Group 1 races at 2000m or less,” Brideoake said.
“I think 2000m is his go but he’s a very clean-winded horse so when he gets racing, he’ll tell us where to go.”
Futures Cox Plate betting at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au have Hardham installed as a $101 roughie shot with all markets firmly led by dual defending champion Winx ($1.50).
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