Jason Macmillan may not be confident in the first-up chances of his galloper Final Command in the Spring Stakes this Saturday, but he is hoping they can make a decent return ahead of the main aim in the $80,000 Listed Balaklava Cup (1600m) next month.
Strathalbyn-based six-year-old Final Command is one of 10 remaining chances in Saturday’s $115,000 Group 3 Adelaide Galvanising Spring Stakes (1200m) running at Morphettville Racecourse.
On paper it looks like freshness will be key to the race too with eight of the 10 hopefuls all making their new season debuts, including Commands gelding Final Command.
Hot favourite is the reigning Spring Stakes winner Happy Trails, Paul Beshara’s Emirates Stakes winner back for another shot this year ahead of a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival raid.
While at trip to Victoria to chase the spring riches is also on the agenda for a number of other Spring Stakes fancies including multiple Group winner Budriguez and the Phillip Stokes-trained Exceed And Excel mare Just Discreet, Macmillan has different plans for Final Command.
He’s hoping his horse can stay in touch with the higher rated hopefuls this weekend before they drop back in class looking for a win in the Balaklava Cup over the mile on September 4.
“The Balaklava Cup is his main goal,” Macmillan told The Herald Sun this weekend.
“He’s not fully wound-up yet, he’s going into this without a trial or a jump-out because they kept getting cancelled (because of the weather).”
There’s also a chance they will contest the $80,000 Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville too on August 24 in the lead-up.
“The plan is run this weekend, then the Penny Edition Stakes then Balaklava Cup,” Macmillan added.
To date the galloper has had 35 starts for 11 wins, their most recent victory being at Morphettville Parks over 1550m on March 23.
That came on the back of a good second to Gold Sand in the Listed CS Hayes Memorial Cup (1600m) on Adelaide Cup Day.
Macmillian believes the 1200-metres of Saturday’s Spring Stakes is likely to be a little sharp for his known miler, but First Command did win over 1250m in Adelaide when resuming in December last year.
That was their second first-up victory over a sprint distance too as they did a similar job at Gawler in May last year over an even shorter 1115m.
There’s also their good wet track record working in their favour for Saturday with the course proper at Morphettville currently rated a Slow (7).
But it is the weight-for-age conditions which will see Final Command carry 58.5kg equal with the favourites, and a full six kilos more than they had on their back for their last start at Flemington when ninth of 10 runners over the mile on April 25, which has Macmillan concerned.
“I don’t think he’s a weight-for-age horse, the conditions are going to make it hard for him,” the trainer said.
“I think he’ll run well and can be in the finish but I don’t think he can give level weights to Budriguez or Happy Trails.
“I’ll be happy with him if he can run in the first four. I think he’s a real Listed horse and possibly a Group 3 horse under handicap conditions, but not at weight-for-age.
“You have to start somewhere and unfortunately his rating suggests there was no other alternative.”
Happy Trails is the $3.20 favourite ahead of Budriguez ($5) while Final Command, to be ridden by apprentice hoop Jamie Kah, pays $18 for an upset in the Spring Stakes markets.