Trainer Mark Kavanagh has no qualms about backing up his stable star Atlantic Jewel week to week for the first time of her career in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Comeback queen Atlantic Queen had only a trot and canter in winning the Group 2 $220,000 Top Cut Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday against the mares at her second run back from an injury enforced sixteen month break from the racetrack.
“She wasn’t pushed out in winning on Saturday. It was a trot and a canter,” Kavanagh told the Herald Sun.
“Our goal is the Cox Plate and we need to look at how best to get her there in the best shape.”
“After Saturday it will be three weeks to the Yalumba Stakes and then two weeks to the Cox Plate. It’s the right progression.”
Atlantic Jewel is lining up for her tenth straight win and to keep her unbeaten record intact will have to beat a very strong weight for age field.
Michael Rood will be able to give the Fastnet Rock mare a beautiful run from barrier seven in the field of fourteen which includes eleven Group 1 winners including the in-form Foreteller (barrier 11) as well as the Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune (14).
Two time Group 1 winner Foreteller denied Puissance De Lune his first win at the highest level with a last stride victory in the Group 1 $350,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 7.
Top Sydney trainer Clarry Conners will be represented by Group 1 Crown Oaks winner Dear Demi (6) and describes the Underwood Stakes equal to a Cox Plate field.
“You couldn’t believe how good this race is – this is as good as a Cox Plate,” Conners said.
Trainer Paul Beshara is keen to get Happy Trails back to the racetrack after last Saturday’s drama which saw the six year old controversially scratched from the Group 2 $300,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley when stewards from a puncture wound on his neck on race morning.
“He missed last Saturday which was really disappointing, so now we have to step up to the 1800m of the Underwood first-up, which makes it tough. However I was really happy with his work this morning. I also gave him a gallop on Sunday morning because he missed raceday,” Beshara said yesterday.
Happy Trails will jump from gate four while James McDonald will probably ride Kiwi star It’s A Dundeel back in the field from barrier twelve.
Atlantic Jewel is the reigning short priced favourite at $2.50 for the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26 and a win in the Underwood Stakes will see her retain her vicelike grip at the head of the market order.
It’s A Dundeel is the second pick at $8 with Puissance De Lune at $9 and Fiorente at $10.