Jockey James McDonald is confident that Exosphere will have no problems handling the Flemington straight when he contests the 2016 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes this weekend.
Exosphere has only raced at Flemington on one previous occasion and he was beaten as an odds-on favourite in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Victoria Derby Day, but McDonald believes that run on horses like Exosphere never had a chance because of the condition of the track and he is hopeful that the Lonhro colt will return to his brilliant best in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes on Saturday.
“He had probably just had enough, but the track was disgraceful that day,” McDonald told Racing Ahead.
“It just made it hard for any horse to make up ground.
“He got back in the field and made a widish run, which you couldn’t do.
“Any horse that didn’t make any ground out wide you couldn’t be too hard on them, but he was definitely at the end of his campaign.
“He is coming up fresh this time and I expect a big run from him, but obviously we are taking on two horses that have been labelled the best sprinters in the world in Terravista and Chautauqua.
“It is going to be a very, very hard task.”
McDonald was originally set to remain in Sydney to ride the likes of Astern in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) on Saturday, but he made the decision to travel to Melbourne for the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes after he partnered the colt in two barrier trials at Warwick Farm on January 25 and February 8.
The leading hoop said that he has been most impressed with the feel that he received from Exosphere in both of his barrier trial starts and he believes that the three-year-old can stamp himself as one of the best sprinters in Australia this weekend.
“I am pretty excited,” McDonald said.
“His work has been pretty good and he has trialed as well as a horse can trial.
“He has probably come back in better order, but he still needs to deliver on race day.
“He feels like a beast and he really perks up on race day.
“He is probably the fastest horse I have ever been on and hopefully he can stamp himself as one of the premier sprinters in Australia.
“It is not going to be easy, but he will run a good race for sure.
“Let’s hope that every horse gets their chance and the best horse wins on the day.”
Exosphere is currently available at 2016 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes odds of $2.50 with Ladbrokes and he is a narrow favourite from Chautauqua ($2.60), Delectation ($8), Terravista ($8.50) and Japonisme ($9.50).