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Kersley is still planning Grand Nirvana’s Newmarket lead up

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West Australian trainer Fred Kersley is searching for a new path to the Newmarket Handicap for his stable star Grand Nirvana.

Kersley was struggling to settle on a suitable timetable for Grand Nirvana in his lead up to the Group 1 $1m Newmarket Handicap (1200m) to be run at Flemington on March 10.

With Black Caviar likely to get 60kg plus in the Newmarket and not go that path, Kersley is confident his top sprinter will be very competitive in Melbourne.

But Kersley’s main problem is finding suitable races in his home town in which Grand Nirvana won’t be burdened with excessive weight.

From January 1 this year the minimum weight for any race in the metropolitan area was raised to 54kg with the top weight for a listed race now being 62kg.

Kersley’s original plan was to run Grand Nirvana first up in the Cyril Flower Stakes (1200m) on February 25, but with a rating of 113, the six year old was likely to get the top weight of 62kg, a task that Kersley doesn’t want his stable star to endure.

“The decision to raise the maximum weight from 60kg to 62kg has ruled him out of having an opportunity to run in WA,” Kersley said.

“We were looking at the Cyril Flower as the race where we could assess his form.

“But it is pretty much ruled out given the change in conditions.”

Grand Nirvana became Western Australia’s newest equine millionaire when he won the WFA Scahill Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on December 3 and if he had to carry 62kg it would be 3.5kg over weight for age.

“I’d have been happy to run under 60kg max, but I am not sure I am happy to run under 62kg.

“Under the 60kg max, it was not much more than weight-for-age.”

Kersley has now to decide whether to trial Grand Nirvana in Perth or go straight to Melbourne without a local run.

“The lead-up programs are just not there,” he said.

“It is a tight schedule and a big ask of the horse.”

The six year hasn’t raced since winning the Scahill Stakes when he beat Waratah’s Secret aand Grey Monarch. This win followed a third behind top group one performer Ortensia in the Group 1 Burswood-Winterbottom Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on November 19.

His other summer outing produced a 2nd in the Group 2 Waroa-Lee Steere Stakes over 1400m after a 2nd in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes over 1200m in October.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.

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