Lindsay Park trainer David Hayes needs his smart mare Gregers to win at Caulfield on Saturday before he can consider her as a candidate for the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in late September.
Gregers will kick off her Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign in the $80,000 Australian Defence Force Handicap (1100m) for the mares, a race Hayes expects the Group 1 placed four year old to win.
But Hayes wants to get an early Spring win on the board before sending the Commands mare back to tackle Group 1 company.
“She’ll appreciate being back in mares’ grade,” Hayes told Racing Victoria News
“With the claim she comes in well and I just want her to have a confidence building win. She went through the autumn and, while she didn’t win, she raced really well in the Group 1s she ran in.
“She starts single-figures in a Group 1 when she runs, so she’s probably entitled to be short tomorrow.”
Hayes, who trains in partnership with Tom Dabernig, has made the job slightly easier by engaging two kilo claiming apprentice Jye McNeil to reduce Gregers 58kgs to a more comfortable 56kgs.
“We’d love to win Saturday and then we’ll make plans after that,” Hayes said.
“If she doesn’t win I’ll place her to win again. I’ll be conservative, but if she wins and wins well we might go deep.
“I would say a race like the Sir Rupert Clarke wouldn’t be out her reach. It’s a handicap, she’d have no weight and hard-fit she’d be hard to beat.”
Gregers hasn’t visited the winner’s stall since beating Marianne in the Group 2 $175,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival but has been placed at Group 1 level twice since.
At her very next start she ran third to Guelph in the Group 1 $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield as well as running third to Driefontein in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Classic (1200m) at Morphettville on April 26.
Hayes then gave Gregers one more run before sending her to the spelling paddock, just missing a place when fourth to Smokin’ Joey in the Group 1 $500,000 The Tapestry Wines Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 10.
Gregers has been well supported since the markets for the Australian Defence Force Handicap have been released and is a firming $2.50 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Mick Kent trained Danestroem is the second pick in the betting at $4.80 ahead of Robert Smerdon’s two mares Members Joy at $8 and Bloomindale Miss at $9.