Caulfield Guineas hopeful Long John is set to kick off his Spring Carnival campaign in the Listed $120,000 Essendon Nissan McKenzie Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Long John is one of ten three year olds that trainer Peter Snowden has nominated for the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12.
The Street Cry gelding will go into Saturday’s McKenzie Stakes undefeated with three wins from three starts in the Autumn.
Snowden spelled Long John after a three and three quarter lengths win in the Listed $120,000 Anzac Day Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on April 25 with the thought of preparing him for some good Spring races.
Darley’s head trainer has always held a high opinion of Long John and expects a lot of improvement now that he has matured a little bit and is happy with his progress to date.
“He’s good, he’s come up really well. He’s always been a big horse so he didn’t have to grow into anything,” Snowden told Racing Network..
“If anything he’s just a bit more mature.”
The McKenzie Stakes nominations have been extended until 10am, Tuesday August 20 after only attracting twelve entries which included Caulfield Guineas bound Kiwi Cauthan and the Rick Hore-Lacey trainned Clevadude.
Boom New Zealand three year old Cauthen is expected to show a lot of improvement after going down as an odds on favourite when second to Clevadude over 1000m at Moonee Valley on August 3 and the pair look like clashing again.
Cauthen’s jockey James McDonald is anticipating a more experienced colt will be stepping out at Moonee Valley on Saturday but will be hoping for a good barrier draw to help his chances.
“He will learn a lot from that experience and I don’t think Moonee Valley will pose any problems for him this time,” McDonald told New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing.
“I think the key to his chances on Saturday will be drawing out a little wider.”
“If he can be on the outside he can get rolling when he wants too, that will be a big help.”
The Peter Moody trained Weinholt is also among the Caulfield Guineas nominations and will be also be improved after finishing third to Clevadude at Moonee Valley.
Snowden’s other Caulfield Guineas aspirant Sidestep had a luckless return to the racetrack at Rosehill on Saturday at his first run since running second to Overreach in the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 6.
Even though Sidestep went down as favourite when fourth to Va Pensiero in the Group 3 $125,000 Smithfield RSL Club San Domenico Stakes (1100m), jockey Tommy Berry was blocked for a run on the Exceed And Excel colt in the straight and was adamant he should have won.
“It has cost me the race, not just third place,” Berry told the stewards after firing in a protest against his brother Nathan on third placegetter Windjammer.