Trainer Jim Conlan has ruled Ferlax out of the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in order to keep the four-year-old fresh for the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Ferlax stamped himself as a Cox Plate contender with his impressive second place finish in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31 but Conlan has always doubted whether his star galloper was good enough to beat Atlantic Jewel and changed his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival path to avoid further meetings with the glamour mare.
Conlan has now made the decision to bypass the Cox Plate so that the son of Pentire is at peak fitness for the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on November 2.
“I have always wanted him to peak for the Mackinnon,” Conlan told TVN.
“It’s a million-dollar race, run at his favourite track and at his ideal distance.
“Sometimes the Cox Plate horses go to the race and they can be knocked around a little from the previous week, so that has always been our main aim for him this spring.”
Ferlax dropped back in distance to contest the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and, although he over raced in the early stages of the race, ran home strongly to finish seventh – just two lengths behind the winner Rebel Dane.
Conlan admitted that 1400 metres was too short for the four-year-old entire and believes he will improve when he steps-up in distance in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12 and the Mackinnon Stakes.
“He stepped away slowly then the race became very messy for him,” Conlan said.
“I was concerned before the race that he needed a mile and I was right.
“I just want to have him spot-on for the Mackinnon, that’s his race”
The Mackinnon Stakes is often an afterthought for Cox Plate runners or a lead-up race for Melbourne Cup contenders but the 2013 edition of the race is set to draw a strong field; with Peter Gelagotis-trained Hvasstan, Underwood Stakes winner Foreteller and imported stayer December Draw expected to contest the event.