Nordic Empire will face stablemates Jabali and Cornrow in the Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on August 16 after he returned to racing with an impressive victory in the Mitchelton Wines Plate (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Nordic Empire was returning to the races for the first time since he tore him hamstring in the lead-up to the $2 million Magic Millions Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast in January, but the son of Wilander was still well-backed in the lead-up to the Mitchelton Wines Plate.
Jockey Craig Newitt had Nordic Empire in a fabulous position on the rail just behind the leaders in the early stages of the race and was worked into the race beautifully coming into the straight.
Newitt asked Nordic Empire for an extra effort at the 300 metre mark and he hit the front with 200 metres left to run before finishing strongly to record a strong victory from the fast-finishing Stingray and Boomwaa.
Trainer Mick Price admitted that he was worried about how Nordic Empire would handle his return to racing in the lead-up to the Mitchelton Wines Plate and he was delighted with the first-up effort of the three-year-old.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Price told the media after the race.
“I’m relieved to get over today, I don’t know what I was worried about.
“The race worked out perfect for us, with the leader we had something to follow and the seas parted at the top of the straight too, but he had to hit the line and after eight months out.
“I think there’s improvement to come in the horse and I hope he goes as well second up.”
Jabali and Cornrow are expected to head towards the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13 and the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11 after running in the Vain Stakes, but Price said that at this stage he plans to keep the colt to sprinting trips during his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
“I think I’ll throw a Caulfield Guineas nom in in case, but I actually think he’s a sprinter,” Price said.
“1200 will be his go, those sort of races.”
Nordic Empire has now had three starts for two race wins after he made his racing debut with a victory in the Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) at Caulfield on November 30 and finished third behind Invisible in the IPad App Plate (1200m) at Canterbury on December 28.