The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Victorian horseman Tony McEvoy has the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes 2017 set as the likely debut for his imported stallion Steel Of Madrid who will begin racing down under with the new name Calderon.
A clash with heroic mare Winx in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 28 could also be on the cards for the five-year-old son of Lope De Vega this spring.
The Irish-bred Steel Of Madrid, formerly prepared by Richard Hannon, has winning form up to 2012m in Europe, but hasn’t raced since finishing last (fifth) under heavy kilos (61kg) over the mile at Windsor back in July.
A conflict of horse names is responsible for the galloper being renamed Calderon, as confirmed by Racing Victoria this week.
Tony Noonan from Mornington already trains a four-year-old Lope De Vega gelding with the name Steel Of Madrid.
McEvoy meanwhile is considering running Calderon first-up Saturday week in the Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Guineas Day.
Last season Winx won the Caulfield Stakes defeating her smallest field of rivals to date when only Black Heart Bart (2nd) and He Or She (3rd) dared challenge the champion daughter of Street Cry.
Winx went on to post a record-breaking eight length victory over Hartnell next race for her second Cox Plate victory.
The now six-year-old is on track to equal Kingston Town (1980-82) with three Cox Plate trophies this year.
Her lead-up into the Australasian weight-for-age championship takes place this weekend with Winx racing at Flemington for the first time in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
The Turnbull Stakes field features seven horses and Winx is odds-on at $1.16 in the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
As for all-in Ladbrokes Cox Plate odds she pays $1.50 to continue her winning streak, which reaches 21 in the Turnbull Stakes on Saturday.
Calderon, who arrived down under at the Werribee International Horse Centre on Saturday, is only rated a $101 roughie in futures Ladbrokes Cox Plate betting.
McEvoy has already spent plenty of time visiting his latest stable acquisition at Werribee and couldn’t be happier with how the horse travelled.
“I like him,” he said. “I saw him for the first time on Sunday morning, he’s a really good style of horse and I’m very pleased with him.
“He’s got great depth and strength about him and I like his attitude. He looks to be a nice horse.
“He travelled beautifully, really good. He had no issues at all and he’s arrived here and is starting to put his weight back on. He’s eating – I’ve had him on the ‘Aussie feed’ if you like in England, just getting him used to it and he’s accepted our water and he’s accepted Australia well.”
Calderon was put through his paces with some light track work over 1400m at the course proper at Werribee on Wednesday and, after being prepared back in England by McEvoy’s son Calvin for the two months prior to his departure, is fit and ready to fire in Australia.
“[They] did a great job on him in England,” McEvoy said.
“I asked them to have him very fit to run a 2000-metre race when he got off the plane and he’s arrived exactly that; he’s very fit.
“So I’m just going to trust him. He’s been in work all year, this horse, so he won’t be doing much work leading into the Caulfield Stakes.”
McEvoy is uncertain whether they will press onto a Cox Plate 2017 bid this year with the “hurdle” of Winx, but was confident Calderon would be a major player in the big spring races the following season.
“He’s a 2000-metre horse, that’s what he is,” McEvoy said.
“He can run a mile-and-a-half, but the three races were the Caulfield Stakes, Cox Plate and Mackinnon [Emirates Stakes] that we thought we’d run him in.
“Unfortunately there’s a bit of a hurdle there with a mare called Winx, but they’re the races we bought him for and we’ll run him and we won’t be expecting too much this year.
“We’ll be learning about him, but I don’t think Winx will be around next year and this horse will be at his best next year.”
To back Winx this weekend and check out the odds on Calderon first-up in Australia visit Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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