Leading Victorian trainer Darren Weir will saddle-up three of the 14 final acceptances in Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) as he chases successive wins in the Caulfield feature.
Last Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Weir took out the weight-for-age Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes with his gun galloper Black Heart Bart, the now seven-year-old one of three in the mix for the stable in 2018.
Black Heart Bart is out to be the first seven-year-old CF Orr Stakes winner since Torbek back in 1983 when the event ran at Sandown.
The son of Blackfriars has not won a race since backing out from the CF Orr last autumn to salute at the same track and distance in the Group 1 $500,00 Futurity Stakes (1400m) on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
The defending champ, who can go back-to-back for the first time since Typhoon Tracy (2010-11), is at single-figures in early CF Orr Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $6.50 in markets led by his stablemate Tosen Stardom.
While Black Heart Bart and jockey Brad Rawiller drew well in gate three, Weir’s gun Japanese import Tosen Stardom has a hoodoo to overcome out in barrier 14 of 14.
Elvstroem (15 of 15) back in 2005 was the last CF Orr Stakes winner to get the job done from wider than barrier 12 so history is against the current $4.60 favourite this season.
A two-time elite level winner down under, Deep Impact entire Tosen Stardom races for the first time since his Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) win at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
His best form is over a mile or more however and the challenge on Saturday is for the galloper to win over less than 1600m for the first time, something Weir’s stable foreman Jarrod McLean is confident the horse can do.
“We’re really excited with him heading towards Saturday,” McLean told Racing Victoria this week.
“He’s wound up and he’s forward and he’s ready to go.
“I made the statement a couple of weeks ago when he galloped at Ballarat that he might go undefeated this preparation and I’m not back-pedalling from that.”
Weir’s CF Orr Stakes contingent is rounded out by another former Japanese galloper Brave Smash who is out to atone for his first-up fifth in the Group 2 $200,000 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
The Tosen Phantom five-year-old did not really finish off in that January 26 run, but at his best last prep ran a competitive third when only a length beaten by Redzel in the Restricted $10 million The Everest (1200m) in Sydney.
“He did go to the races underdone,” McLean said of Brave Smash in the Australia Stakes.
“The way he raced was disappointing. It was all upside down but he’s come through it well and we’ve been able to work him hard since and I’m not going to drop off him just yet.
“We’re looking to ride him a little bit quieter [on Saturday].
“Weight-for-age over 1400 metres, he might not be good enough to beat Black Heart Bart or Tosen Stardom but it will be a nice conditioning run for him when he steps out in a handicap next time.”
The Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes field also features the likes of returning Godolphin star Hartnell out in barrier 12, Chris Waller’s Kennedy Mile winning mare Shillelagh in gate two and Mick Price’s returning Caulfield Guineas champ Mighty Boss in barrier five.
2018 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes Final Field: Hartnell (12), Black Heart Bart (3), Tosen Stardom (14), Brave Smash (6), Lord Of The Sky (10), Tshahitsi (11), Mr Sneaky (13), Thronum (8), Dollar For Dollar (7), Single Gaze (1), Shillelagh (2), Abbey Marie (4), Jester Halo (9), Mighty Boss (5).