Lightly raced three year old Puritan will be tested for an Autumn Carnival campaign by his performance in the Group 3 $150,000 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Mornington trainer Jason Warren has such a high opinion of Puritan that he is prepared to take on Group 3 company first up even though the Beneteau gelding has only won a Pakenham Maiden from three race starts.
But Puritan’s easy three and a half lengths win in a 1000m Geelong barrier trial on Monday has buoyed Warren’s confidence heading into Saturday’s race against the three year olds.
“Our hopes are pretty high (for the autumn),” Warren told AAP.
“I think he’s a high-level horse and we don’t really know what his pet distance is going to be yet.
“We’ll kick off in the Manfred and he’ll probably run two or three weeks later in a 1400-metre race if he runs well on Saturday.
“Then we’ll make a better plan from there.”
Such is Warren’s belief in his ability that he has nominated Puritan for two Autumn Carnival Group 1s at Flemington, the $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 5 and the $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 12.
“He’ll have to run very well on Saturday to think either of those are an option, but I can’t see why at this stage we could rule out either of those races,” Warren said.
“I don’t really know what his right trip is going to be.”
Warren wasn’t frightened to test Puritan in top company in the Spring and he ran a respectable fourth to Kinglike down the Flemington straight in the Group 2 $200,000 Danehill Stakes (1200m).
The Mornington trainer then stepped Puritan up in distance in the Group 3 $175,000 BECK Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield but the three year old obviously needed a break after finishing fourteenth to Bon Aurum who is also nominated for the Manfred Stakes.
Nicholas Hall will be the new rider for Puritan on the weekend and got a feel of the gelding in his Geelong barrier trial win.
“He was only there for a soft trial and Nick Hall, who will ride him on Saturday, got to get a feel for the horse,” Warren said.
“It was more about the way the horse pulled up and his recovery was excellent.”
“He’s got a brilliant turn of foot. He’s got a bit of the X-factor.”
Puritan is one of twenty three year olds nominated for the Manfred Stakes and the entries also include three from the Peter Moody stable, Gold Symphony, Vostok and Anatola, Prince Of Brooklyn and Ready For Victory from the Mick Price stable, Sovereign Nation from Lindsay Park and the Darren Weir trained Palentino.