Smart three year old Holler has earned the right to tackle a Group 1 race over the Melbourne Autumn Carnival after scoring an impressive first up win against the older horses in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
Holler made the step up to Group 2 class after winning the Group 3 $150,000 Telstra Phonewords Stakes (1200m) over the same course and distance last October and wouldn’t be out of place in Group 1 company over the Autumn.
If trainer John O’Shea decides to leave Holler in Melbourne, the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 20, the Group 1 $500,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 27 and the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12 are all an option.
“Obviously he’s improved since the spring and he’s in for an exciting autumn I’d say,’’ O’Shea’s top man in Melbourne David Charles said.
“It’s fantastic, he’s made the progress from the spring to the autumn, and it’s an exciting time ahead.”
“I don’t really know [if he stays in Melbourne]. That’s John’s decision, but a nice one to have.
“John’ll be wrapped. He’s a nice horse.”
Charles said that O’Shea had pencilled in the Australia Stakes after Holler won the Telstra Phonewords Stakes in the Spring and the race had panned out as expected.
“John spoke to Craig (Williams) this morning (Saturday), and they thought that’s how the race would probably pan out [on the speed],” Charles said..
“And Craig had a great ride, and the horse is going extremely well.”
Winning jockey Craig Williams had Holler ($4.60) straight on the speed from barrier seven and skipped away in the straight to record a one length win over Churchill Dancer ($21) with Rebel Dane ($3.70 favourite) doing his best work over the concluding stages to finished a close up third.
Williams was impressed with Holler’s winning effort against the older sprinters and is certain he can take the next step up to Group 1 level.
“Definitely, absolutely [can compete in the top sprints],” Williams said.
“He’s a beautiful looking horse, moves really well, gives himself every opportunity when he finds that forward position, and very solid.”
“I gave him a kick at the top of the straight, and at this level, he did a really good job to hold off a lot of Group 1 horses behind him.
“For a three-year-old to beat the older horses at weight-for-age, says he’s in for a nice summer-autumn preparation.”
Holler was the second leg of a winning double for the O’Shea – Williams combinations after the pair scored earlier in the day with Monogram ($4.80) in the $80,000 Think Big Stud BenchMark 84 Handicap (2040m) for the fillies and mares.