Managing Director of Godolphin Australia Henry Plumptre has revealed that the major autumn sprint races are likely to figure as the major campaign targets for three-year-old Astern this time in.
Astern has shown plenty of ability since he made his competitive debut in late 2015, but went to another level through the recent Spring Racing Carnival which included a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m).
Plumptre told Racing Ahead that the Medaglia D’Oro colt has almost taken too well to his time away from racing and while a specific campaign path is yet to be set in stone, races like the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) are likely to figure.
“Like a lot of people, Astern came out of Christmas a bit chubby – he’s let his belt out a couple of notches,” Plumptre said.
“He had a fairly tough spring. He had a little viral issue after the Golden Rose which is why he didn’t go for the Guineas.
“He was competitive in the Roman Consul and very competitive in the Coolmore and that made it quite a long spring campaign for him but to the horse’s credit, he spelled only for a short period of time and he looks terrific, but very big.
“He’ll have a couple of hard gallops before a trial, he’s down to trial next week. He’s going well.
“If John wants to go sprinting with him and that’s what the boss wants to do, if they look at the schedule and might decide that Lightning, Newmarket and TJ is the way to go with him.
“Most people have him pegged as a high-class sprinter, so he’ll probably go that way.”
Astern won the Group 2 Silver Slipper (1100m) in only his second career start upon resuming in 2016, and while failing to fire when eleventh in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) returned to the paddock after dead-heating the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) with El Divino.
Resuming in spring for a smart win in the Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) before taking out the Golden Rose by close to three lengths, Astern finished second in each of the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) and Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at his two most recent starts.
Astern is currently perched on the second line of early 2017 TJ Smith Stakes betting at Ladbrokes, at a $7 quote.