Co-trainer Michael Hawkes believes that 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes contender Atlante has taken plenty of benefit out of his first-up win at Moonee Valley on September 5 ahead of his return to Group 1 racing at Caulfield this weekend.
Atlante joined Team Hawkes at the end of his 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign, after previously being prepared by Murray Baker, and he worked home strongly in the final stages of the Listed Drummond Golf Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 to score his maiden race win in Australia.
Hawkes believes that Atlante will still need to improve to win the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday, but he told Sky Racing HQ that he is happy with the condition of the Fastnet Rock entire.
“We kept him here for as long as we could in Sydney and he had to go to Melbourne because the tracks at the time were wet and rain affected,” Hawkes said.
“We pulled the right reign there and we have won first-up with the horse.
“He has gone forward and he looks great.
“He has a long way to go, but he has drawn a good marble and he should get a good run.”
Atlante has been included in the nominations for the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 4 and second acceptances for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25, but Hawkes said that a decision is yet to be made about what race the four-year-old will be set for during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
“He is sort of a mile horse or thereabouts, maybe a little bit further, but we are taking it one step at a time with him,” Hawkes said.
“It is always new and we are still learning about him.
“After his run Sunday we will learn a bit more, but he is a quality colt, he has the pedigree and by Fastnet is a tick for him.
“We are still learning about him and he will run well.”
Atlante is currently available at 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes odds of $9, while triple Group 1 winner Dissident ($4.40) has opened as favourite from Gai Waterhouse-trained Sweet Idea ($6), Theo Marks Stakes winner Cluster ($7.50) and Group 1 debutant Trust In A Gust ($7.50).