Another winning performance by Mr Utopia will see the former Western Australian sprinter given his chance at Group 1 level in the $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield early in the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Mr Utopia was transferred to Caulfield trainer Robert Smerdon over the Summer and the five year old has won two of his three starts for his new stable in April and May and will be lining up in the $80,000 VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series Heat 4 (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Elusive Quality five year old scored a narrow first up win over Boomwaa in a BenchMark 90 Handicap at Flemington on April but was then beaten five lengths when seventh to Royal Island in the Listed $150,000 Midfield Group Wangoom Handicap (1200m) at Warrnambool on May 6.
But Mr Utopia wasn’t out of the winner’s circle for long with a win in the $80,000 VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series Heat 1 (1400m) at Flemington on May 23 at his next start.
Stable foreman Stuart Webb said that Mr Utopia had performed well above expectation since joining the stable from the West and would be given his chance at Group 1 level in the Spring if his good form continues on Saturday at Flemington.
“He had good form over there but he’s gone better than what we thought since coming to us,” Webb told AAP.
“If he goes right through to the final you then get fairly deep into winter and don’t get much of a chance for a let-up.
“If he happens to win on Saturday we are better off tipping him out for a little breather and then getting him ready for one of those seven furlong (1400m) races early in the spring.
“At this stage he’s running on Saturday and then we’ll assess where we are after that.”
Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra has been aboard the Western Australian galloper in all three starts this campaign but will have to be at his best after Mr Utopia drew the outside of the field and will jump from barrier sixteen.
But a wide alley didn’t stop him from winning his last start over this course and distance when he was able to score a comfortable one and three quarter lengths win over Hosting who will also line up in Saturday’s race.
Hosting drew outside of Mr Utopia at their last meeting but has the luxury of the inside gate this week and will also meet the Smerdon sprinter on 2.5kg better terms.
Chile Express, barrier eight, and top weight Tried And Tired, barrier fifteen, will be meeting Mr Utopia and Hosting again after finishing third and fourth in the Winter Championship Series Heat 1.
Another interesting former Western Australian galloper is He Or She who will be having his first start for the Lindsay Park Team of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
The Kendel Star four year old hasn’t raced since winning over 1500m in a BenchMark 72+ Handicap at Ascot on January 1 and has worked his way up through the grades in the West with seven wins from nine starts under the care of Lark Hill trainer Vaughn Sigley.