Jim Conlan-trained Ferlax will be set for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) after he produced a career best performance in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Coming off a seventh place finish in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m), Ferlax got a lovely run in transit in the Memsie and made up ground late to hold off Super Cool, who flew down the outside, and finish second in a photo finish, two and a half lengths behind glamour mare Atlantic Jewel.
Conlan had said in the lead-up to the race that the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival path for Ferlax would be decided by his performance in the Memsie Stakes and the Mornington-based trainer is now confident that the Australian Guineas winner can compete at Group 1 weight-for-age level.
“You’re mixing with the absolute cream, which I think he’s up to,” Conlan told TVN.
“It was the first time I’ve had him ready to go since the Guineas.
“He got galloped on and things went wrong for him in Sydney.
“I was confident he’d run well, it was a matter of finding where he fitted into the whole scheme of things.”
Ferlax is set to follow a similar path to the Cox Plate as the one taken by stablemate Rekindled Interest, who finished an incredibly unlucky third behind Pinker Pinker in the 2011 edition of the race, in the last two years.
The son of Pentire will head to the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 14 for his next start before contesting the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 5 ahead of the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 26.
The lightly raced four-year-old has had just seven career starts and recorded wins in Echuca, Benalla and Sale before his surprise win in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington during the 2013 Melbourne Festival Of Racing.