Darren Weir’s Australian Guineas hope Palentino is set to line up in Saturday’s Group 3 $150,000 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.
The promising three year old is a winner of two of his three race starts but Weir says that Palentino still has a lot of improvement to make if he is going to be genuine chance in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 5.
“Palentino had a trial at Ballarat last Wednesday and he’s good but he’s got to continue to improve to be a threat to the others but hopefully he does,” Weir told racing.com.
“He’s a beautiful type of horse but we haven’t seen it in his track work yet.”
Palentino scored at his second start in a Stawell Maiden over 1300m on October 12 then Weir produced him on the fourth day of the 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival to take out the Listed $150,000 Hilton Hotels & Resorts Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on November 7.
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne has been aboard Palentino for his two wins but a jockey for the Manfred Stakes on Saturday hasn’t been finalised.
Weir has selected the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 20 as Palentino’s next Australia Guineas lead up run after the Manfred Stakes.
Weir’s other two strong Australian Guineas chances Mahuta and Perfect Reflection will only have one more lead up run each.
Mahuta is the winner of his last five starts and is coming off a victory in the $2m Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 9 and will run in the Group 2 $200,000 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 13.
While new stable acquisition, undefeated Perth filly Perfect Reflection, will run in the Group 3 $150,000 The Vanity (1400m) at Flemington on February 20 on her way to the Australia Guineas.
“He’s (Mahuta) been a surprise packet, we’ve just kept lifting the bar and he just keeps racing well,” Weir said.
“Perfect Reflection is probably the best performed of the three. She’ll have a trial at Warrnambool on Wednesday but I’m very happy with her so far.
Perfect Reflection, the winner of five from five, was transferred to Weir after winning the Group 1 $1m Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in Perth on December 5 under the care of top Perth trainer Grant Williams and has been installed the early favourite at $7 for the Australian Guineas.
The market order at Ladbrokes.com.au has the Chris Waller trained Press Statement on the second line of betting at $8 ahead of Weir’s other two contenders Mahuta and Palentino at $9.