Robert Smerdon’s high class filly Fontein Ruby is bound for the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 7 after pleasing the stable in a jump out at Sandown on Tuesday.
Fontein Ruby was sporting a new piece of race gear when she jumped out over 800m with a crossover noseband on and Smerdon said it seemed to have helped the filly show marked improvement on her Spring Carnival form and she is likely to wear it when she returns to the racetrack.
“She’s terrific and has come back better than the Spring I think,” Smerdon told racing.com.
“I’m rapt with the way she’s going. She’s always got her mouth open and has been awkward to ride, so we’ve been using a crossover noseband on her in her track work and she’s had a good reaction to it.
“Mark Zahra was happy with it and she accepted it well coming out of the barriers today so it’s probably a gear change we’ll employ with her going forward.”
Fontein Ruby won’t have to show much improvement to be a force during the Melbourne Festival Of Racing after the Turffontein filly scored at Group 2 and Group 3 level during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Jockey Mark Zahra was aboard Fontein Ruby when she beat the fillies in the Group 2 $200,000 TAB Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on October 4 and the pair combined again for another victory against the three year olds in the Group 3 $750,000 racing.com Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18.
But she was out of the prizemoney at her next two Spring Carnival starts with a sixth to Thunder Lady in the Group 2 $300,000 Racing.com Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1 followed by a twelfth of twelve to Set Square in the Group 1 $1m Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington five days later.
Even though Fontein Ruby was able to win over 2000m in the Caulfield Classic, Smerdon is not convinced that is her best distance and will try to limit her to 1600m during her Autumn campaign.
“She won over 2000 that day at Caulfield but I think she might most effective up to 1600 metres,” the Caulfield trainer said.
Smerdon has selected the Group 3 $150,000 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 14 for Fontein Ruby’s return to the racetrack.
The Group 2 $220,000 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield a fortnight later will be her next assignment with the Australian Guineas run seven days later.