Golden Rose winner Astern will kick off his 2017 Autumn Carnival campaign in the in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 18.
Astern’s Lightning start was confirmed on the Godolphin website and the Medaglio D’Oro colt will then stay in Melbourne for one more run after being among the nominations for the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 11.
English jockey James Doyle who has replaced James McDonald as Godolphin’s number one Australian jockey, got a good feel of Astern when he finished sixth in a 1000m barrier trial at Warwick Farm on Monday and said the John O’Shea trained colt felt terrific.
“I was very pleased with him, he relaxed beautifully and travelled through the trial quite well,” Doyle said.
“He quickened nicely toward the end and hit the line quite well, moving great, so we’re really happy with him.”
“He’s a colt with a lot of strength and class, it’s easy to understand why the stable has such an opinion of him.”
Astern was given a quiet trial by Doyle and assistant trainer Darren Beadman said that he will have a stronger hit out in another trial in the coming weeks before he heads to Melbourne.
“Astern was very comfortable and came back in great order, he’ll trial again in a week-or-so and then go to Melbourne,” Beadman said.
Following his run in the Newmarket Handicap Astern will return to Sydney for the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 1, the first day of ‘The Championships’.
Early betting for the T J Smith Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au has Astern as the equal second favourite with Spieth at $7 behind the Team Hawkes trained Chautauqua at $5.
Melbourne colt Flying Artie at $9 and the Mick Price trained stablemate Extreme Choice at $10 are the next two in the market order.
Astern claimed his Group 1 trophy with a win in the $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill during the 2016 Sydney Spring Carnival but was then runner up at his two next starts.
Russian Revolution beat him in the Group 2 $300,000 The Star Roman Consul (1200m) at Randwick on October 1 then he found the Mick Price trained Flying Artie too slick for him when second in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 29 before being sent for spell.
Early market order for the T J Smith Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $5 Chautauqua, $7 Astern, Spieth, $9 Flying Artie, $10 Extreme Choice, $12 Star Turn, $13 Black Heart Bart, $14 English, $15 Malaguerra, $16 Russian Revolution, $17 Terravista, Music Magnate $21 Counterattack, Japonisme, Lucky Hussler, Southern Legend, Takedown, $26 or better the rest.