Hong Kong-trained Dan Excel continued his builds towards the 2014 Cox Plate with a strong performance in a barrier trial over 1030 metres at Rosehill Gardens this morning.
Dan Excel contested the opening barrier trial of the morning at Rosehill Gardens and he worked home strongly in his first public appearance since arriving in Australia to finish third behind Manawanui and Happy Galaxy.
Jockey Tommy Berry was onboard Dan Excel in the barrier trial and he told TVN that he could not be happier with the progress that the Shamardal gelding is making ahead of the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“He was very nice,” Berry said.
“He had the winkers on which kept him switched on and he box-seated behind his stablemate Happy Galaxy.
“He sprinted quiet well down the straight, but Happy Galaxy and Manawanui, being two sprinters, sprinted a little bit too good for him.
“He wound them in quiet well at the end and he was probably only beaten a neck.
“He ran through the line quiet well, he pulled up good and he had a good blow.”
Dan Excel is set to make his Australian racing debut in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield next Sunday before he steps-up to a mile for the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at the same venue on October 11.
Berry will not ride Dan Excel in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, with the leading hoop set to maintain his association with Gai Waterhouse-trained mare Sweet Idea in the Group 1 event, and Berry believes that Dan Excel may be a little bit soft for his first-up assignment.
“He will probably be a little underdone for his first-up run after missing his trial last week, but we couldn’t be any happier with the progress that he is making,” Berry said.
Dan Excel has recorded two wins and six placings from his 17 race starts at Group 1 level in Great Britain, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore and he has not been seen at the races since Berry steered him to victory in the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) at Kranji in May.
The John Moore-trained galloper is currently on the fifth line of the 2014 Cox Plate betting market with Ladbrokes Australia and he is available at a quote of $17 to score his third victory at Group 1 level.