The Group 3 $150,000 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day is the key summer racing carnival target for last-start Doveton Stakes winner Crystal Dreamer.
Co-trainer Simon Zahra, who prepares the Stratum five-year-old in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, confirmed Crystal Dreamer had been kept fit with the summer riches calling.
Last time out the consistent chestnut gelding was seen winning the Listed Doveton Stakes (1000m) at Ladbrokes Park on Zipping Classic Day, November 18, by over two lengths.
It was an impressive short-distance effort and one that has the team confident of more stakes success this campaign.
Crystal Dreamer races next-up on Saturday in a $100,000 handicap at Caulfield Racecourse over 1100m.
His latest run at the Caulfield track was in far tougher company back on Caulfield Cup Day, October 21, when five and a half-lengths off the winner Snitty Kitty in the Group 2 $200,000 Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1000m).
On Monday Crystal Dreamer was put through his paces at Werribee with a strong piece of trackwork to bring him on fitness wise for his sixth visit to Caulfield.
“He went well [in his jump out], but he’s probably fit too – he’s been up a while,” Zahra told Racing Victoria.
“He won the other day, and just did a little too well the last couple of weeks, so nice day out here, nice easy trial and he’ll run on Saturday at Caulfield – a place that he’s had good success at.”
In both his previous runs over Saturday’s track and distance, the horse has finished third including the brave effort behind Voodoo Lad (1st) and So Si Bon (2nd) in the Group 3 $150,000 The Heath (1100m) back in early September.
After Saturday plans are to step Crystal Dreamer back up in grade for races including the $120,000 Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) back at Caulfield as part of their Boxing Day races and the Standish Handicap on January 1.
“You’ve got the Christmas Handicap [Stakes] and the Standish in the next two to three weeks,” Zahra said.
“That’s always been our target, to keep him for over the summer.
“I think we’ve placed this horse really well throughout, he did lose his way a little bit mid-spring, but he’s got his mojo back and he’s been really consistent since.”
Over his 21 start career to date, Crystal Dreamer has enjoyed nine wins and a further seven minor placings for $415,060 in prize money.
He could be joined in Saturday’s Caulfield race field by stablemate Amber Sky, an eight-year-old son of Exceed And Excel imported from Hong Kong.
Amber Sky was brought to Australia with the intention of retirement, but connections subsequently decided to race on down under with the $1.9 million earner.
The gelding has not won since the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) in Dubai back in March of 2014 and has had to overcome some laminitis-related feet issues before his debut for Ellerton and Zahra.
“He’s come from Hong Kong, obviously well performed over there,” Zahra said.
“Just a bit of a rock and a hard place [scenario], he hasn’t won for a long time, a bit hard to place over there.
“They thought they’d give him a go here [in Australia], and then find a nice home for him. So far so good with him.”
The recent form of Amber Sky was franked over the weekend by his last start conqueror Mr Stunning.
Back in March Amber Sky ran third to the John Size-trained sprinter at Sha Tin over 1000m and Mr Stunning proved his class ridden to victory by Aussie expat Nash Rawiller in the HK$18.5 million Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) on Sunday.