New South Wales three year old of the year First Seal will kick off her Autumn Carnival in the Group 2 $175,000 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on February 20.
First Seal is set to return from injury and trainer John Thompson had initially intended to run her in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 13 after she ran second to English in a 839m Randwick barrier trial on January 19.
But Thompson has instead pencilled in the Millie Fox Stakes against the fillies and mares which will give him time to give the Group 1 Flight Stakes winner a second barrier trial before resuming from an injury enforced break.
“Considering she has had so long off, it would have been quite a task at 1400m at that level,” Thompson told puntersshow.com.au.
“We would have been risking her getting beaten on fitness alone.
“It is a better option to wait a week, resume at 1300m and also take on her own sex.
“A restricted mares race is perfect for her to get back in to racing.”
“I was going to have to rush an exhibition gallop in to her this Saturday, now she can trial again, and then have almost a fortnight in to the Millie Fox Stakes.”
Thompson is then looking at the Group 1 WFA $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 5 but will then wait to confirm the rest of First Seal’s Autumn Carnival plans.
The Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) for the fillies and mares at Rosehill on March 12 or the weight for age Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill the following week are all options for Thompson on the way to the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 2, the first day of ‘The Championships’.
First Seal was rated the 2014 – 2015 New South Wales three year old of the year after winning the Group 1 $400,000 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick during the 2014 Spring Carnival.
The Fastnet Rock filly was also runner up at Group 1 level in $400,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in the Spring, and in the $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) and in the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) both at Rosehill during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
But Thompson had to abandon a 2015 Spring Carnival campaign for First Seal as a four year old after she developed an ongoing hoof problem that needed surgery.
Thompson has been pleased with First Seal’s recovery and expects the mare to be among the prizemoney again during the Autumn.
“She is in for a good prep, she looks great, sound and happy. Very happy with her,” Thompson said.
First Seal is well in contention in the Doncaster Mile betting at Ladbrokes.com.au at $13 behind Cox Plate winner Winx at $8, Press Statement at $9 and Azkadellia at $11.