Leading Victorian trainer Darren Weir is confident that Black Heart Bart has found the right form to challenge for a fourth Group 1 crown when he lines up for the Ladbrokes CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
Black Heart Bart was sent to the paddock after he failed to fire and ninth in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October, but the six-year-old had clearly taken benefit from his time away from racing when he resumed for a smart second behind Malaguerra in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago.
Weir will saddle three runners in the feature race including Palentino and 2016 runner-up Lucky Hussler, but told Racing Ahead that he believes Black Heart Bart will have the CF Orr Stakes form edge on his stable mates.
“I don’t know to be honest!” Weir said.
“He’s pretty simple to ride, he’s going to need a little luck but he’ll be in the first half rather than the second half I would have thought.
“Hopefully gets his luck. The horse has come on really well and I would love to be able to swap the barriers with Lucky Hussler, but anyway it will be up to Brad to decide what he does.
“Obviously Malaguerra went terrific first-up and I’d say it has come on too, so it’s going to be hard to but it’s a little bit different of a race and he’s drawn a bit sticky too.
“It will come down to tactics, what both riders decide to do. It’s not only those two horses, there’s a few other good ones as well.”
A former Perth galloper, Black Heart Bart was a standout performer in black type feature races for Vaughn Sigley throughout his entire west coast tenure, but has undoubtedly stepped up in class and ability since he was transferred to Weir’s care last autumn.
Failing to finish worse than second through five autumn and winter starts, the Blackfriars gelding finished just off the pace in each of the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) before breaking through for a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 21st.
Resuming in spring for a smart win in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield; perhaps the most relevant CF Orr Stakes form guide, Black Heart Bart finished second to Palentino in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) before winning the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) with complete ease.
Black Heart Bart is currently available at 2017 CF Orr Stakes odds of $3.80 at Ladbrokes.