The in-form Lindsay Park team have both Stipulate and Crackerjack King in the 2014 Underwood Stakes field and co-trainer Tom Dabernig is happy with the condition of both imported stayers heading into the Group 1 event this weekend.
Stipulate performed well without winning in three race starts during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing and broke through for his maiden Australian race win with a most impressive performance in the Listed Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on August 30.
The strong nature of Stipulate’s victory has David Hayes eyeing the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) with the son of Dansili and the Dabernig said that the five-year-old had continued to progress heading into the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on Saturday.
“We were thrilled with his first-up win and he has had a nice spacing into this race,” Hayes said.
“He has drawn ten, but the track and distance and everything is ideal.
“Obviously going into Group 1’s you can never be overly confident, but he is certainly done everything that we have asked of him following his Group 1 win.”
Crackerjack King made his long awaited Australian debut with a flat performance in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 9, but he produced an improved performance when eighth in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6.
Dabernig believes that Crackerjack King is still a run away from returning to the form that he showed when he won at Group 1 level in Europe, but believes that the step-up to 1800 metres in the Underwood Stakes will suit the Shamardal entire.
“He is improving,” Dabernig said.
“He is a horse that everyone knows brings good form with him, but he had been off the scene for a long time.
“You just need to follow him and trust that at his fourth and fifth run in that he will be really hitting his form.
“He will carry himself into the race nicely and his fitness is getting a to a place where he can do something, but it is a tough race.”
David Hayes has never won the Underwood Stakes as a trainer in his own right, but his father Colin Hayes took out the race with Authaal (1988) and Almaarad (1989).
Stipulate has been the best-backed runner in 2014 Underwood Stakes betting markets and is into a quote of $6, while Crackerjack King is available at the lengthy Underwood Stakes odds of $51.