Group One winner The Quarterback takes another step towards an international assignment when he contests a restricted race at Caulfield.
The Newmarket Handicap winner is the short-priced favourite to win the VOBIS Gold Sprint on Saturday, part of his program geared towards the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Saturday’s race is restricted to VOBIS Gold eligible horses and run at set weights.
Trainer Robbie Griffiths said The Quarterback would need to perform well on Saturday and at his next start in the Group One Goodwood at Morphettville on May 21 to confirm the overseas trip.
“If he runs well on Saturday, but more importantly in the Goodwood and pulls up well, that would cement us going,” Griffiths said.
“He’s booked to fly on June 1 but we can cancel at any stage if we’re not happy with him.”
Saturday’s Caulfield race appeared at the right time for Griffiths to lighten The Quarterback’s travel load.
Griffiths decided to bypass the TJ Smith at Randwick during The Championships knowing he had an interstate trip to Adelaide.
And the prize money, $280,000 with bonuses added, made Saturday’s contest an enticing race.
“It’s a really good option for us on our back doorstep and we’re racing for Group Two prize money,” Griffiths said.
“We can then go to Adelaide, that has same direction of racing as Melbourne, and he’s been there before as a three-year-old.
“He needs to save some energy if we are serious about going to Royal Ascot.”
After winning the Newmarket last month, The Quarterback finished fifth in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on March 24.
He bungled the start that night before unwinding a strong burst, finishing 1-1/2 lengths from the winner Flamberge.
Griffiths says Saturday’s weight scale, which means the Quarterback carries 59kg, is in his favour but the gelding’s racing style is a negative.
“He’s giving us all the indicators that he will hold his form and his form is terrific for a race like this under the weight scale,” Griffiths said.
“He’s just got to not rear at the start like he did last time.
“If he can get out of the gates a bit easier it will make life a lot easier.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au