The spring campaign of New Zealander Xtravagant is back on track following a barrier trial at Cranbourne.
The four-year-old is set to run in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes on Saturday after pleasing co-trainer Stephen Autridge and jockey Damien Oliver on Monday.
Xtravagant finished out of the placings in the 1190m heat on heavy ground but was throttled down by Oliver over the final 200m.
What pleased Autridge and Oliver was the way Xtravagant travelled on the heavy track and quickened approaching the home turn.
Importantly Xtravagant switched his lead leg, something the four-year-old failed to do when a long last in the Bobbie Lewis Stakes at Flemington on September 10.
Autridge remains at a loss to explain the effort.
“We don’t know what happened at Flemington,” Autridge said.
“The one thing we did see was he got on one leg and refused to change. Why we don’t know.
“What we do know is he’s twice as good left handed as right, so I suppose in a straight line he might have got lost.”
Autridge expects Xtravagant to bounce out of his trial and is not too concerned about the likelihood of a rain-affected track on Saturday.
Oliver said Xtravagant’s action felt good on the heavy ground and explained he didn’t want the four-year-old having too hard a hit-out ahead of Saturday’s race.
“I gave him a bit of a squeeze at the top of the straight and he quickened really good,” Oliver said.
“I eased him down more so because he is running on Saturday and we didn’t want him having a tough 1200 metres on a heavy track.
“It was good he got on early on a pretty decent surface.
“He got through the ground and he pulled up well so I can’t see why we can’t go ahead with Saturday.”
After his coltish behaviour before the Bobbie Lewis, he was better behaved on Monday and Oliver is hoping Xtravagant can be excused from the parade in the lead-up to Saturday’s race.
“I’m hoping we can get around it on Saturday by getting him out on the track early,” Oliver said.
“It might help his cause a little.”
Xtravagant is one of 17 nominations for Saturday’s 1400m race which include Counterattack, Rangipo, Tivaci, Tycoon Tara, Under The Louvre and Voodoo Lad.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au