Crackerjack King is set to make his racing debut in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday, but co-trainer Tom Dabernig admits that the 1200 metre event will be too short for the imported stayer.
Crackerjack King has not been seen at the races since he finished fifth behind Little Mike in the Group 1 Arlington Million Stakes (2011m) in August of 2012 due to a tendon issue.
David Hayes has patiently nursed Crackerjack King back to the fitness level required to return to racing, but Dabernig told Racing Victoria that the Shamardal entire was yet to be tested over longer staying trips in trackwork and had been restricted to a sprinters preparation ahead of the Aurie’s Star Handicap.
“The shortest he’s ever run over is 1800, so starting over 1200 is a bit more like an old-fashioned way of kicking off an Australian stayer, but because of his tendon rehab we’ve only been able to work him over short distances,” Dabernig said.
“We’ll run him down the straight where we’ll get great ground; when they’re running in a straight line they generally pull up well.
“It’ll blow out some cobwebs for him and if he can be running on and hitting the line it opens a few doors for him.”
Crackerjack King was included in the nominations for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) that were released earlier this week and Dabernig revealed that he and Hayes were still hopeful that the six-year-old could compete at the highest level during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Dabernig admits that there is every chance that Crackerjack King’s body is unable to stand up to the rigours of a lengthy spring preparation, but believes that the Italian Group 1 winner has the quality required to take on the best horses in Australia.
“Keeping him sound is always in the back of your mind, but he’s working with great enthusiasm,” Dabernig said.
“He should run well and if he can stay sound, he’s a live hope.”
Crackerjack King recorded seven wins from ten starts in both Europe and the United States and he took out the Group 2 Italian Derby (2211m) in 2011 and the Group 1 Premio Presidente Della Repubblica GBI Racing (2011m) in Italy before being far from disgraced in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse (2018m) at Sandown.
Tiger Tees is currently a narrow favourite in the 2014 Aurie’s Star Handicap betting market with Ladbrokes Australia, while Crackerjack King is available at the lengthy quote of $34.