Trainer Lionel Cohen has revealed that Aeronautical will return to the races in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 if he performs well in a barrier trial over 1200 metres tomorrow.
Aeronautical will compete in a barrier trial over 850 metres at Rosehill Gardens, in a heat that also includes Appearance, White Sage and Sweet Idea, and his performance will decide whether he runs in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes or has a run in Sydney before contesting the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 8.
“He is trialing tomorrow at Randwick and we will see from there,” Cohen told Sky Racing HQ.
“He will definitely go to the Newmarket and there is a chance him will go to the Lightning tomorrow.
“I want to avoid running two weeks out in Sydney and then travelling down to Melbourne, so the Lightning is a strong possibility.
“He will have a good strong trial and we will take it from there.”
Aeronautical had a disrupted 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, pulling up with the thumps following his ninth place finish in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m), but returned to his best form with a narrow win over Heart Testa in the Listed Razor Sharp Handicap (1150m) at the Randwick Kensington track on December 14.
Cohen said that he believes that Aeronautical was not at his best in the Razor Sharp Handicap, but has been delighted with the condition of the Encosta De Lago gelding since he has reentered serious work leading up to his autumn preparation.
“We went to Melbourne after his second in The Shorts and he had that problem,” Cohen said.
“To get him back after that was very important and I don’t think that he was quiet at his best when he won the Razor Sharp.
“A few days after and in the time since then he has done really well and I couldn’t be happier with him at the moment,” Cohen said.
“I haven’t been that hard on him and he will have a nice trial tomorrow.
“He is a horse that doesn’t take that much work and he just loves his racing.
“He is a pleasure to train and he is reasonably fit for tomorrow’s trial.”
Four different jockeys have ridden Aeronautical in his past four starts and Cohen has opted to lock in Cox Plate winner hoop Chad Schofield to ride his star galloper during the autumn in order to avoid a last minute scramble for a jockey.
“I have locked in Chad Schofield,” Cohen said.
“I would have liked to keep Hughie (Hugh Bowman), but it is difficult with his commitments in Sydney.
“Chad was meant to ride him last year in the Newmarket and he got himself suspended, so he is back on.”
Aeronautical is currently available at 2014 Newmarket Handicap odds of $17; with Chris Waller-trained Zoustar the favourite at $5.50 despite being unlikely to contest the race.