Trainer Darren Weir is expecting the widely travelled Rageese to take great improvement from his run in the Group 3 $150,000 The Steel Builders Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Weir sent Rageese to Perth to run in the Group 1 $1m James Boag’s Premium Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 19 but the four year old returned to his Warrnambool stables without a run after being scratched on race morning because of a minor hoof problem.
The premiership winning trainer has reported that Rageese has recovered from his hoof ailment but will improve immensely fitness wise with Saturday’s run under his belt as he heads towards the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 17.
“He seems to be good, he had a few easy days after he had that little foot issue but I’m really happy with him,” Weir told racing.com.
“He is a big bull and having missed that run he might just need the run on Saturday but his main target is the Villiers and he should be right to go there.”
Dean Yendall will have plenty of work to do on Rageese after the four year old stallion drew barrier twelve in the Festival Stakes field that has been reduced to thirteen runners following the early scratching of the John O’Shea trained European import Duca Valentinois.
“I rather draw inside with anything rather than out because I think it makes it easier,” Weir said.
“Probably somewhere in the middle would have been good for this horse but you can’t do anything about it and the horse is going well.”
Prior to his unsuccessful trip to Perth, Rageese made up plenty of ground in the straight to win the Group 3 $200,000 L’Oreal Paris Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day.
Fellow Victorian trainer Ciaron Maher had better luck at the barrier draw with Hazzabeel coming up with the pole position for the Festival Stakes.
The former Western Australian trained Hazzabeel was back in the winner’s stall last start with a victory in the Listed $130,000 Kilmore Cup (1600m) at Kilmore on November 20 and Maher had earmarked a return to Perth for the Group 1 $1m Peters Investments-Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on the weekend.
But Maher had to revert to plan B and head to Sydney for a Villiers Stakes campaign after Hazzabeel’s flight to Perth from Melbourne was cancelled.
Apprentice Michael Dee was aboard the Zabeel gelding for his Kilmore Cup win and gets the mount again in the Festival Stakes.
The Chris Waller trained Religify, one of three runners for the leading stable, should be able to find the front easily for Kerrin McEvoy from barrier seven.
Religify has been racing consistently over the Spring with three placings before leading all of the way for McEvoy to win $100,000 November Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill on November 19.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Sweet Redemption is another who likes to lead and Brenton Avdulla is certain to go forward from barrier nine.
Sweet Redemption set the pace two starts back when second to Silent Sedition in the Group 3 $150,000 Summoned Stakes (1500m) at Sandown on November 12 and then used the same tactics when second to Circular in the $100,000 Goulburn City Cup (1600m) at Goulburn on November 20.
Religify has been installed as the $4.20 favourite for the Festival Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of Rageese at $4.80, the Peter and Paul Snowden trained Extensible at $6 and Sweet Redemption at $9.