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Co-trainer Tom Dabernig is keeping the spring campaign of Cape Of Good Hope open saying the 2020 Caulfield Cup remained a potential target following the galloper’s return in this Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 P.B Lawrence Stakes (1400m).
Caulfield’s 2020 P.B. Lawrence Stakes attracted a star-studded list of 15 nominations on Monday including a host of Group 1 champions led by last year’s winner Mystic Journey.
Another elite level winner down to kick off their spring campaign in the weight-for-age event is the Dabernig & Ben Hayes-trained import Cape Of Good Hope who debuts as a five-year-old on the weekend.
He was brought-on fitness-wise for the event with a Flemington jump-out on Monday where he appeared alongside the likes of Melbourne Cup champion Vow And Declare and All Aged Stakes winner Tofane over the course of the morning at HQ.
The Irish-bred Galileo stallion, formerly with Cox Plate winning trainer Aidan O’Brien overseas, is best known for his Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) success last October in his first ever run down under.
He was spruiked for a big spring following that upset as an outsider in betting, but finished down the track in both the Group 1 Cox Plate (10th) and Mackinnon Stakes (16th) before heading out for a spell.
Resuming in the autumn he finished dead last first-up at Caulfield in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and was also near the tail end when second last (13th) in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) behind his stablemate Fifty Stars at Flemington in early March.
Dabernig remains hopeful of an improved preparation this time in from Cape Of Good Hope however whose previous poor form can be forgiven due to hoof issues.
“He’s had a good break and has come back in nice and sound,” he told AAP.
“He arrived in Australia in good form winning the Caulfield Stakes but last campaign his feet were the issue and he was taking on reasonable company.
“His feet have improved. Remember Redkirk Warrior had trouble initially with his feet when he came from Hong Kong and we managed to get him right and I think this is a similar situation.
“We’ve addressed the issue and he’ll have his chance to show his best form.”
Mystic Journey, fellow The All-Star Mile winner Regal Power and Arcadia Queen lead pre-field P.B. Lawrence Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for Saturday.
Cape Of Good Hope is further down the markets at $26 ahead of Wednesday’s final acceptances, which around the same quote he won the Caulfield Stakes as kicking off his spring last year.
Dabernig confirmed the current top-level assignment for Cape Of Good Hope after Saturday would be the Group 1 $750,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on September 26.
How the horse progresses will determine whether they elect to stretch him out further for the mile and a half of the Group 1 $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17.
“I think we’ll get him to an Underwood Stakes and work it out from there,” Dabernig said.
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