Geelong trainer Heath Conners is searching for overdue Spring riches with Invest when she lines up in the Group 3 $150,000 Snowhite Maintenance Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sportingbet Sandown Park on Saturday.
Conners was forced to scratched Invest last week from her main Spring target, the Group 2 $300,000 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington after the mare was found to have a raised temperature on race morning.
“She had a temperature last Saturday morning,” Conners said.
Conners was disappointed that Invest had to miss the Matriarch as she was ready to produce her best at a suitable distance for the first time this Spring and also because the odds on favourite Silent Achiever failed to fire and missed a place.
“I was filthy because everything was spot-on for her and it was even more frustrating when the favourite didn’t run up to expectations either,” Conners said.
“I don’t know what it was, maybe a 24-hour bug, but she was fine the next morning. The Matriarch was our goal but that went amiss so Saturday will be the back-up plan.”
Connors was happy with Invest’s run in the Group 1 $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on November 3 when seventh and is hoping that the likely leader Star Of Giselle can put on a genuine pace up front.
“We just want a little bit of a genuine tempo for her. If she gets that genuine tempo, then there is no reason she can’t join in at the right time,” Conners said.
“I would have thought there would have been a bigger field.”
“She kept getting to the line the other day but the winner and second horse just had that little bit extra dash for her while she just stayed at that one bat.”
Jockey Peter Mertens has retained the ride on the four year old after establishing a good combination which saw them win the Group 1 $400,000 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville on April 28 followed by a win at Doomben during the Brisbane Winter Carnival in the Group 3 $175,000 Hidden Dragon The Roses (2000m) on May 19 when trained by Heath’s father Clarry.
Invest was sent out one of the main chances in the Group 1 $400,000 Treasury Casino Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm at her next start but finished a long way from the winner on a heavy track.
In-form Grey Assignment and Eclair Surprise look the testing material in the Eclipse after fighting out the finish in the Listed $150,000 Diamond Jubilee Plate (1800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day.
Queensland trained six year old Grey Assignment was going for four straight wins when nosed out on the line by the Phillip Stokes trained Eclair Surprise who was rewarded with a win over the Melbourne Cup Carnival after winning the Listed $80,000 Carlton Draught Murray Bridge Cup (1600m) at Murray Bridge on October 17.
Front runner Star Of Giselle heads the Eclipse market at $3.30, in front of Grey Assignment at $6.50 with Eclair Surprise and Niconoise sharing the next line of betting at $7.
Invest is at the juicy odds of $13 at her final run this Spring before heading to the paddock for a short break before being prepared for the Autumn.