Trainer Simon Zahra has no retirement plans in place for veteran sprinter Flamberge who lines up for his forty-second start in the Listed $120,000 Kensington Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight on Saturday.
Flamberge will be resuming from a long break, having not raced since finishing eighth to Silent Sedition in the Group 1 $500,000 Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley in March last year, and has drawn barrier four in the eight horse field with Damian Lane booked to ride.
The eight year old sprinter was a three times Group 1 winner under the care of Peter Moody but hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since scoring a nose victory in the 2016 William Reid Stakes
Flamberge’s other Group 1 wins were the 2015 $500,000 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville and the 2016 $500,000 Clamms Seafood Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.
Zahra, who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said that Flamberge has shown plenty of his old zest in the lead up to his return to the race track and there are no sings that he has run his last race.
“He’s showing good signs at home,” Zahra told AAP.
“I thought he trialled really well on Monday.
“It’s always been if he’s not going well or he feels sore he’ll retire but we’ve had no reason to think anything less than he’ll be pretty competitive on Saturday.”
Zahra and Ellerton will saddle up three runners in the Kensington Stakes and as well as Flamberge, Rock ‘N’ Gold and former Hong Kong sprinter Amber Sky will represent the stable.
Rock ‘N’ Gold has missed a place at his last three starts and Zahra thinks the Kensington Stakes field might be too slick for the seven year old, but he is willing to test him against the small field.
Rock ‘N’ Gold was a winner four starts back over 1000m in a Cranbourne Handicap in October and is coming off a last start fifth to Jungle Edge in a 1000m Handicap on the Ladbrokes Park Hillside track at Sandown on December 2.
“He might not be quite up to it but there’s going to be enough speed where he can just drop the bit and see if he can hit the line,” Zahra said.
“He trialled well as well on Monday.”
Amber Sky hasn’t raced since finishing third over 1000m at Sha Tin in Hong Kong in May last year but is the winner of seven of his twenty-eight starts which includes his win in the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan in Dubai in 2014.
“He’s well. He might be a bit rusty, I reckon on Saturday,” Zahra said.
“He looks like he’ll tighten up nicely from the run.
“He’ll run well, but I reckon he just might feel the pinch a bit late.”
“He might be too good for them, who knows. We just think his fitness will benefit from the run.”
Amber Sky has been installed the $4.50 favourite for the Keningston Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au with Flamberge at $7 and Rock ‘N’ Gold the outsider of the field at $18.