Jockey James McDonald has a big opinion of Astern and is confident he will be tough to beat in the 2016 Todman Stakes, but he believes that the talented colt will take benefit from the run as he heads towards the Golden Slipper.
Astern made his racing debut with a very comfortable two and a half lengths victory in the Surf Meets Turf Plate (1000m) at Royal Randwick on December 5 and he started his 2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with a win in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 20.
McDonald did not ride Astern in the Silver Slipper Stakes, but he got back aboard the Medaglia D’Oro colt at track work this morning and was pleased with the feel he received from the two-year-old ahead of the 2016 Todman Stakes.
“He is brilliant, I sat on him this morning and he felt terrific,” McDonald told The Punters Show at the launch of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
“I have always said that he is the real deal and hopefully he will leave up to that on Saturday.
“He has to beat a couple of good runs, when I looked at the field on Tuesday morning I was quite surprised that there were a few unbeaten ones.
“There are a lot of reputations on the line and hopefully he will come out with flying colours.
“I was very pleased with the way that he pulled up.
“This is just a stepping stone to his grand final, but whatever he does on Saturday he will benefit from.”
McDonald elected to head to Melbourne to ride Exosphere in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) rather than ride Astern in the Todman Stakes, but he was still pleased with the performance of the gifted colt.
The talented hoop admitted that Astern’s overall time in the Silver Slipper Stakes was not overly flash, but he believes that the two-year-old could have gone much faster if he was pushed in the Todman Stakes.
“I was extremely pleased with him,” McDonald said.
“Obviously, the time wasn’t flash and they walked and crawled, but he is a horse that will never win his races by big margins because he is a tradesman like horse that will just get the job done.
“I would say that there was plenty in hand and speaking to Hughie after the race he said that he was a pretty good horse.”
The 2016 Todman Stakes field will be released tomorrow and Astern is set to take on the likes of Capitalist, Dieters, Kiss And Make Up, Tessera and Weatherly.