Enigmatic sprinter Bel Sprinter will head for a first-up tilt in the 2015 Oakleigh Plate after impressing connections with his performance in a barrier trial at Cranbourne yesterday.
Bel Sprinter contested the opening barrier trial of the morning over 800 metres at Cranbourne yesterday and he jumped from the gates cleanly before he was settled in a forward position just behind General Truce.
Jockey Ben Melham kept Bel Sprinter under a tight hold in the final stages of the trial and he was unable to go with Lankan Rupee when the leading sprinter was asked for an extra effort, but he was still able to hit the line fairly to finish in fourth position.
Trainer Jason Warren was thrilled with the early speed that Bel Sprinter showed in the barrier trial and he confirmed that he had set the Bel Esprit gelding for the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 28 before a potential trip to Sydney for the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 21.
“Today was his first time, it was a real quiet one,” Warren told TVN of Bel Sprinter’s barrier trial.
“I didn’t ever think I would see him settle a length in front of Lankan Rupee.
“He goes best first up so he’ll be trained for a first-up effort.
“If he goes well then he’d be freshened and headed towards Sydney, maybe for something like the Galaxy, but he’s got to be impressive in the Oakleigh Plate to suggest to me that we stay at Group 1 level.
“I think he’s got another Group 1 at handicap level in him.”
Bel Sprinted stamped himself as one of the best sprinters in the world in 2013 when he won the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) and finished second behind Lucky Nine in the Group 1 Krisflyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore, but he has been unable to record another win at the highest level of racing since.
The veteran sprinter scored his first race win for over a year when he dead-heated with Miracles Of Life in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) at Caulfield on October 18, but he was unable to replicate that performance in the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day and he never looked like a winning chance in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 22.
Bel Sprinter was included in the 2015 T.J. Smith Stakes nominations that were released yesterday, but would need to perform well in both the Oakleigh Plate and The Galaxy to contest the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on April 4.