Champion jockey Damien Oliver is still non-committal about choosing last Saturday’s explosive winner Extreme Choice as his mount for the Group 1 $1.5m Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 27.
The Mick Price trained Extreme Choice powered away at the end of the 1000m to record a four and half lengths win over the Lindsay Park trained Highland Beat in the Group 3 $150,000 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield.
Bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au immediately wound in the colt’s Blue Diamond Stakes price from $6 to be the dominant favourite at $2.40.
But Oliver still wants to test out stablemate Flying Artie who is set to step out in the Group 3 $200,000 Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
“He’s training well, and we like him as well, so we’ll see how he measures up against some good opposition next week,” Oliver told the Herald Sun.
“It’s a great position to be in.”
Price also has a high opinion of Flying Artie who Oliver steered to a three and half lengths win in a 1000m Geelong barrier trial on February 1.
“Flying Artie is a really nice horse,” Price said.
“I really like him, he’s a big scopey horse, he’ll definitely get 1200m, so we’ll see how he goes next Saturday and fine tune it from there.”
“We won’t make a decision with jockeys until after next Saturday.”
Extreme Choice was sent out the $1.40 favourite for the Chairman’s Stakes and could not have been more impressive as he finished off the 1000m very strongly, indicating that that he would be capable of handling the 1200m of the Blue Diamond Stakes.
“When Ollie let him go to the front he pricked his ears and had a relax, but the main thing is he was strong to the line, the time was good and the horse did it with something up his sleeve,” Price said.
“I suppose the burning question is how’s he going to be at the end of 1200m, but who cares, he’s a nice horse … we think he’s going to be a red-hot chance.”
The Chairman’s Stakes was Extreme Choice’s second race start and kept his unbeaten record intact after scoring on debut with a two lengths win in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) at Randwick on December 12 with Glyn Schofield in the saddle..
The John O’ Shea trained Calliope and Team Snowden’s Defcon are next in the Blue Diamond Stakes market order at $9 and both are scheduled to run in the Blue Diamond Preludes on the weekend while Flying Artie is still marked as an $11 chance.
Blue Diamond Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.40 Extreme Choice, $9 Calliope, Defcon, $11 Flying Artie, $13 Valliano, $15 Concealer, Sword Of Light, Weatherly, Zamzam, $17 Cohesion, Miss Nymeria, $21 Curvature, El Venetian, Emphatically, Power Trip.