Victoria Derby winner Sangster’s Autumn Carnival is on the line when he steps out in the Group 2 $200,000 Top Cut Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley tomorrow night.
New Zealand trainer Trent Busuttin is willing to forgive Sangster for one bad run but will head home if the three year old doesn’t perform up to scratch in the Alister Clark.
“If he doesn’t run one, two or three there must be something underneath the surface and it must be deep-set,” Busuttin said.
Busuttin called in his vet to examine Sangster after he could only beat one runner home in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 3 won by Mosheen.
Sangster returned to New Zealand after taking out the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on October 29 for a short break.
The Savabeel three year old resumed in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Waikayo Draught Sprint at Te Rapa over the unsuitable distance of 1400m but Busuttin expected a better showing in the Australian Guineas.
“Last spring he raced against Sabrage twice and they were one all so I don’t think there’s much between them. Sabrage finished sixth in the Australian Guineas and I would have thought we would have been right where he was. ”
“Going into the Alister Clark he’s working just as well. Dan Nikolic has ridden him a couple of times and can’t fault him either,” he said.
Danny Nikolic produced an outstanding ride to take out the Guineas on Mosheen and has replaced the suspended Mark Zahra on Sangster for Friday night.
Zahara was suspended for twenty-seven meetings by Racing Victoria Stewards for failing to ride his mount, Cue Sea out to the line at Ballarat on March 1.
He was able to get a reduction of five meetings on appeal and will resume riding on March 24.
The Mike Moroney trained Sabrage has continued to please this preparation and is expected to run well in the Alister Clark with two runs under his belt.
“He hasn’t got clear runs in his two starts this time in and he has a very good record at 2000m,” he said.
The Charge Forward colt who ran third to Sangster in the Victoria Derby resumed with an eighth, beaten just over three lengths, in the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on February 18 then made up ground in the straight when sixth to Mosheen in the Australian Guineas.
Moroney had planned to take Sabrage to Randwick this week end for the Group 1 $500,000 Turnpoint Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) but decided to stay in Melbourne after talking to Damien Oliver and the prospect of getting a firmer track.
“Ollie said he was following Mosheen through in the Australian Guineas but he said he was just left a bit flat-footed and thought it was because of the rain affected track,” Moroney said.