Lindsay Park co-trainer Tom Dabernig is hoping that Churchill Dancer’s recent race fitness will go along way towards causing an upset result in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Churchill Dancer has had three runs since late November and will be taking on four Group 1 winners who are all resuming from a break.
While Churchilll Dancer’s best win has been at Group 2 level when he took out the $200,000 Bobby Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington at the beginning of the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival, Dabernig can see the rock hard sprinter being competitive on Saturday.
“He is a seasoned old horse, very fit,” Dabernig said.
“Under the weight for age conditions it is a tough race but he always runs an honest race.”
Churchill Dancer goes into the weight for age Australia Stakes on the back of a third to Saturday’s rival Durendal in the Group 3 $150,000 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day with Nicholas Hall in the saddle.
Hall will be aboard the Churchill Downs five year old again and will have to be at his best, jumping from twelve alley in the thirteen horse field.
Churchill Dancer has virtually raced through from August last year with a month in between runs before he finished fifth to Grane in a 1000m Handicap at Moonee Valley on November 28 before running fourth, two starts back, to Durendal in the a 1200m Handicap down the Flemington straight on December 12.
The Australia Stakes has attracted a strong line up on Saturday with four Group 1 winners, Hucklebuck, Mourinho, Rebel Dane and Trust In A Gust all ready to kick off their Autumn Carnival campaigns.
Adelaide sprinter Hucklebuck is resuming from an injury enforced lay off and is the winner of the 2014 Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington while Trust In A Gust is a dual Group 1 winner of the 2014 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and the $400,000 Toorak Handicap (1600m) both at Caulfield.
Sydney based sprinter Rebel Dane is the winner of the 2013 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes while last year’s Australia Stakes winner Mourinho claimed his Group 1 glory with a win in the $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Churchill Dancer has been listed as a $17 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Australia Stakes with Rebel Dane heading the market order at $3.30 ahead of the in-form Durendal at $7.50.
Australia Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.30 Rebel Dane, $7.50 Durendal, $8 Hucklebuck, $8.50 Trust In A Gust, Holler, $9 Mourinho, Rageese, $12 Sirbible, $17 Churchill Dancer, $18 Richie’s Vibe, $31 It Is Written, $91 Written Up, Kievann.