Trainer John Thompson has left his Spring Carnival options open for First Seal who resumes as the favourite for the Group 2 $250,000 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
First Seal was named the 2014-15 NSW Horse of the Year at the NSW Racehorse Owners Awards on Thursday night and Thompson is hopeful she can collect an another early Spring trophy when she steps out on the weekend.
“First Seal has had a nice break over winter and has grown into a big, strong mare,’’ Thompson told The Daily Telegraph.
“She has gone well in two trials and although she will improve with the run, I think she will be hard to beat. She is forward enough if she is good enough.’’
If First Seal runs up to expectations in the Warwick Stakes, Thompson will then have to decide if the Fastnet Rock mare stays in Sydney for the Group 1 $1m The Star Epsom (1600m) at Randwick on October 3 or heads to Melbourne for the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 26.
The Group 1 $400,000 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 10, the Group 1 $3m William Hill Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 and the Group 1 $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on October 31 are all possible Spring targets.
“I’d like her to race on drier tracks if possible. We are taking it one race at a time but there are a few options for her,” Thompson said.
“The Epsom is worth $1 million now so that is obviously a possibility if we stay in Sydney.
“If we go to Melbourne, there are races like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, Toorak Handicap and Myer Classic, and if she is really flying the Cox Plate is there, too.’’
As well as claiming the NSW Horse Of The Year title, First Seal also won the champion three-year-old and Queen of the Autumn for her race day deeds over the past twelve months.
During the 2014 Sydney Spring Carnival First Seal won the Group 1 $400,000 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick before running second to Hampton Court in the Group 1 $400,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.
Then in the Autumn the glamour filly added the Group 2 $175,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 to her winning record before finishing in the runner’s up stall at her two next starts.
First Seal was pipped on the post by the Peter Moody trained Plucky Belle in the Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill and was then beaten a neck by Victorian filly Fenway in the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
Tommy Berry will be having his first ride on First Seal in the Warwick Stakes, taking over from James McDonald who rode her at the backend of the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Thompson has given First Seal two easy barrier trials in preparation for her return to the racetrack in the Warwick Stakes with bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au keeping her short at $2.90.
The next in the market order is the first of Chris Waller’s six runners, Doncaster Mile winner Kermadec at $6.50 just ahead of stablemate Royal Descent at $7 and the John O’Shea trained It’s Somewhat at $7.50.
Warwick Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.90 First Seal, $6.50 Kermadec, $7 Royal Descent, $7.50 It’s Somewhat, $8.50 Burbero, $9.50 Pornichet, $12 Messene, $41 Beaten Up, Gust Of Wind, $51 Complacent, Zaratone, $67 Hawkspur, Foreteller, $101 Moriarty.