Leading Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes will devise a plan for Eclair Big Bang to overcome a ‘tricky barrier’ in the Group 1 $750,000 Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth on Saturday.
Eclair Big Bang drew gate nine in the thirteen horse field and Stokes will discuss with jockey Dom Tourneur the best way to ride the four year old.
“It’s a little bit of a tricky barrier, but we’ll work that out and he’ll be thereabouts,” Stokes told The Advertiser.
“He showed the other day he’s a little bit more versatile now his mindset is better.
“Last prep he was more worried about the horses around him. Now he seems to be in a lot better frame of mind — more mature.”
Eclair Big Bang has won two from his last three starts and has shown his versatility this campaign with an all the way first up win over 1100m at Gawler before sitting on the pace when third in the Listed $120,000 italktravel Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on October 15.
Then at his latest outing Tourneur had the Savabeel gelding settled midfield after jumping from barrier ten and finished off strongly to score a narrow win in the $100,000 Emirates Airline Handicap at Flemington on the final day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Eclair Big Bang raced twice at Group 1 level during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival without success and Stokes thinks it is a good chance to gauge Eclair Big Bang’s ability against Group 1 opposition again, looking to the future for the four year old.
As a three year old Eclair Big Bang failed to beat a runner home when fourteenth in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield followed by an eighth in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
“It’s a hard enough race but we’ll get a good idea where his level is at,” Stokes said.
“Horses like Moment Of Change have been racing at the top level against horses like Lankan Rupee while we haven’t.
“He probably hasn’t had the ideal prep having to go from 1400m back to 1200m but we’ve trained him accordingly.
“If he can run first four I’ll be pretty happy and he’ll take a lot of out of the trip mentally which will help him next year.”
Stokes has reported that Eclair Big Bang has travelled over to the west in good order and settled in well and he is happy with the condition of the gelding going into Saturday’s Group 1 weight for age sprint.
“He’s been with Moment Of Change. They’ve been together ever since they left. Everything has gone well,” Stokes said.
“He’s settled in OK. His work Tuesday was good — he was a little bit lost because he worked by himself but he’s pulled up well in the wind so we don’t have to do much with him.”
Eclair Big Bang is rated as a $14 chance in the Winterbottom Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Robbie Griffiths trained Angelic Light the $3 favourite ahead of Peter Moody’s Moment Of Change at $4.40 and Sidestep at $6.
The locals are putting their faith in the Jim Taylor trained Magnifisio who is marked at $7.50 ahead of Bel Sprinter at $11, Shining Knight at $12 and Testamezzo at $13.