Caulfield-based horseman Robert Smerdon is looking forward to the new season debut of his recent stable acquisition Luckygray who he rates a good chance down the Flemington straight on Saturday.
Formerly prepared in Perth by Gino Poletti, six-year-old Bradbury’s Luck grey Luckygray is set to resume racing with their first run for Smerdon in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
A dual Group 1 winner in Perth having won the 2011 Railway Stakes over the mile and last year’s Kingston Town Classic over the 1800m at Ascot, the gelding is also no stranger to Melbourne racing.
They have had two Victorian campaigns before having travelled east for two runs last spring and then coming back for the autumn.
They were last seen running a brave fourth to the since retired superstar Black Caviar in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 22.
Before that they were a somewhat disappointing first-up eighth to Shamexpress in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
While the Newmarket has been Luckygray’s sole Flemington start to date, Smerdon is confident that they will perform better at the track this weekend and that the conditions of the course will be key to their Aurie’s Star run.
“Flemington at this time of the year is such a good surface and I thought that would be preferable for him than running him on a really heavy track,” racenet.com.au reported Smerdon as saying this week.
While Luckygray’s best runs have been over a longer distance, their form suggests the 1200m first-up might also suit as they were able to win the Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m) by an easy three and a half lengths when resuming at Belmont Park in May last year.
“He’s on the up,” his new trainer said.
“I have had him out at Sandown a couple of times and given him a hit-out but, as you would expect, he’s got the scope for improvement.
“He’s got a long spring ahead of him. He’ll run well fresh but he has a lot of improvement in him.”
Smerdon also isn’t concerned about the washed out trials that delayed the Monday trials at Cranbourne this week where he planned to give Luckygray a soft hit-out.
“He’s still going to go to the races on Saturday,” Smerdon said.
“It’s a gallop that you wanted to give him but didn’t give him but everyone is in the same boat.
“He was never going to have a hard trial. He was only ever going to have a soft jumpout. It was just going to be a gallop on a grass surface.”