Lloyd Kennewell has revealed that tough gelding Conservatorium will wear blinkers for the first time in in over two and a half years when he contests the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Conservatorium has not worn blinkers in a race since he finished fourth in the 2011 edition of the Listed Wylie Handicap (1100m) at Morphettville on September 10, but Kennewell is hoping that blinkers will help the six-year-old return to his best form.
The Royal Academy gelding raced consistently right around the country during 2013, but has failed to fire in his four race starts this preparation; finishing eighth in the Group 3 Irwin Stakes (1100m) on April 12, seventh in the Group 3 McKay Stakes (1100m) on April 26, eighth in the Group 1 The Goodwood on May 10 and 11th in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 24.
Kennewell admits that Conservatorium has raced flat during his autumn campaign, but told Racing Ahead that he was happy with the way the Group 1 placegetter worked at Breakfast With The Stars this morning and is hoping that he can produce an improved effort in the Stradbroke Handicap this weekend.
“He seems well,” Kennewell said.
“To be honest, he has been a little bit flat in his runs this preparation and he drew wide, which obviously made it very awkward the other day there at Doomben.
“He had to do a fair bit of work and didn’t finish the race off as we would have liked in the last little bit.
“Since the run he has had bit of work with the chiropractor and a few tune-ups and basically a few needles whacked in the back there, which he had when he starting hitting good form 12 to 18 months ago.
“He worked really well at Eagle Farm this morning and the blinkers go back on this week.
“Hopefully we can get a better result with him.”
Conservatorium drew outside gates in both The Goodwood and the Doomben 10,000 and Kennewell is desperate to draw an inside gate at the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw that will be held tomorrow.
“Barrier four would be good I think,” Kennewell said.
“If he can draw somewhere around there he is a horse that can hold his position and get a nice soft run in behind them and if he can get that I think that he will run a cheeky race.”
Conservatorium will carry 54 kilograms in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap and is available at a quote of $51 to record his maiden victory at Group 1 level.