Trainer Jim Conlan is chasing a second Group 1 victory with Ferlax and believes that the Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8 is an ideal race for the Australian Guineas winner.
Ferlax returned to work just under a fortnight ago after spending six weeks in the spelling paddock following his disappointing twelfth place finish in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) that led to a premature end to his spring preparation.
The Pentire entire started the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival with a seventh place finish in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington before finishing second behind glamour mare Atlantic Jewel in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield .
Much was expected from Ferlax after impressive Memsie Stakes performance but he pulled up sore following his seventh place finish in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and was clearly not at his best in the Toorak Handicap a fortnight later.
The Orr Stakes is run under almost identical conditions to the Memsie Stakes and Conlan told Racing Victoria that he will have Ferlax at close to peak fitness, potentially using the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight before as a warm-up event, for the $400,000 race.
“With the Orr being over the 1400m at Caulfield, under weight-for-age conditions, it looks a pretty good race for him,” Conlan said.
“He did finish second to Atlantic Jewel in the Memsie over the track and distance and the horses behind him that day were all the stars of the spring.
“It’s probably the right option to have him pretty well wound-up for that race.”
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) was originally set to be the major 2013 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Ferlax but Conlan decided not to follow a weight-for-age path with the four-year-old in order to avoid clashes with glamour mare Atlantic Jewel.
Conlan said that, with Atlantic Jewel retired and a number of the leading weight-for-age contenders expected to remain in Sydney and chase the riches of The Championships, he plans to keep Ferlax at weight-for-age level for the entire 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing; with races like the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) and Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) both on the agenda.
Ferlax will be Conlan’s only weight-for-age hope in the autumn following the retirement of Rekindled Interest, who has now started a career as a dressage horse.