A realistic Robert Smerdon won’t be stepping new stable acquisition Ossenhagen up to the major Spring races until the promising sprinter has proven his class in the lower grades.
Ossenhagan created a huge impression with two runaway wins on the provincial circuit in May before his sale to Hong Kong interests fell through.
Rival trainer John Sadler prepared the Ad Valorem three year old for his wins at Geelong and Bendigo but Smerdon is happy to receive the talented sprinter into his stable.
Ossenhagen had been touted a Toorak Handicap prospect following his two outstanding efforts, but Smerdon is more realistic and will set a Spring path once he gets a feel for the gelding.
“He’s got a couple of impressive provincial wins, but whether he stretches out to that distance we don’t know,” Smerdon said.
The Group 1 $400,000 David Jones Toorak Handicap run over 1600m at Caulfield on October 12 might be an ambitious target for the veteran of only four race starts, but if he can live up to his early reputation, Smerdon will find a suitable feature race to tackle.
“He’s been winning over the short trips, he might be just a sprinter, so we’ve got a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we start talking about what races we’ll target,” Smerdon said.
But Smerdon’s first hurdle is to get Ossenhagen back on the racetrack following his recovery from a minor leg injury which forced his withdrawal from the Moonee Valley meeting on June 15.
“It was only a minor injury, superficial, but we’ve still got to get the all clear,” Smerdon said.
“As soon as we get that we’ll start working him.
“It’s right on a moving part and to put any stress on it at the moment would just keep stirring it up, so we’ve got to make sure that’s a hundred percent before we kick off with him.”
If Ossenhagen doesn’t make the grade, Smerdon could still be represented in the Toorak Handicap with dual Group 1 winner Luckygray.
Western Australia’s favourite galloper has only recently been transferred to Smerdon from Perth’s top trainer Gino Poletti and the Caulfield trainer is very happy with the grey’s progress leading into the Spring.