European import Articus will now head to Queensland for the Group 1 $650,000 Hardy Brothers Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on May 20 following his return to winning form at Flemington last Saturday.
Articus was supposed to already be in the Sunshine State and was scheduled to run in the Group 2 $358,000 Attwood Marshall A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast but trainer Darren Weir was forced to scratch and run the five year old in the $100,000 Chairman’s Club Handicap (1800m) when travel arrangement fell through.
Articus’ Flemington win has cemented his place near the top of the Doomben Cup market order and now sits as the second favourite at $5 behind the Darren Beadman trained It’s Somewhat at $4.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Weir took over the preparation of Articus from German trainer Andreas Wohler who was in charge of the stayer when he ran a disappointing thirteenth to Jameka in the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield during the 2016 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
“After the Caulfield Cup, we were just gutted,” Australian Bloodstock’s Luke Murrell told The Courier Mail.
“We were really confident there, he had worked well, but he just didn’t get around Caulfield.
“That’s the only excuse we could find. Then first-up, he would have probably preferred a wetter track, but we were happy enough with the run.”
At his first run for the Weir stable Articus was always well back in the field before finishing thirteenth to Hooked in the Group 3 $150,000 Victoria Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield on April 15 but the premiership winning trainer quickly found the secret to the import and will now head to Queensland full of confidence.
Winning jockey Brad Rawiller settled Articus in the second half of the field again last Saturday at Flemington and was surprised how quick the five year old put himself into the race on the home turn.
Articus skipped to a three lengths lead half way down the straight and held on to score a comfortable one length victory over the Ciaron Maher trained Haradafull.
“Before the turn I had him stoked and ready to fire and I didn’t expect him to pick them up that quick,” Rawiller said.
“Over the last bit it was a matter of keeping him interested. I was switching the whip over left and right, making sure he didn’t clock right off.”
Articus miss a clash with A.D. Hollindale Stakes winner It’s Somewhat at the Gold Coast but will get his chance to eye off the new Godolphin star in the Doomben Cup.
Early market order for the Doomben Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.50 It’s Somewhat, $5 Articus, $7 Sense Of Occasion, Single Gaze, $9 Benzini, Star Exhibit, $11 Amelie’s Dream, $13 McCreery, Maurus, Ventura Storm, $15 Mime, Preferment, Vanbrugh, $17 Cylinder Beach, Happy Hannah, Sons Of John, Top Of My List, $21 Life Is Ordinary, $26 or better the rest.