General Groove will make his debut at Group level in the 2014 Sandown Stakes and co-trainer Leon Corstens admits that the Group 3 event is a significant step-up in class for the gelding.
General Groove started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a narrow win over Holy Heart in the Pura Milk Handicap (1300m) at Bendigo on October 18 and made it two wins from as many race starts this preparation with a tough victory over Spy Decoder in the Lavazza Short Black Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.
Corstens told Racing Ahead this morning that he has been happy with the form of General Groove during his spring preparation to date, but he believes that the General Nediym gelding faces much stiffer competition in the Sandown Stakes this weekend.
“He was fantastic on Cup Day and he did a really good job, but it is a bit of a jump in grade tomorrow,” Corstens said.
“With the compression of the weights he is not in fantastically, but he is a bulldog and he tries hard wherever he goes.
“It is always nice to have winning form going into races like this, he is third-up and it is not an afterthought.
“We are on the way up and I hope we can keep him going.”
General Groove was settled in the second half of the Lavazza Short Black Handicap, while he was settled in front of just two horses in his first-up win at Bendigo.
While General Groove has clearly proved sufficient at working home strongly from towards the tail of the field, Corstens said that he expects jockey Dwayne Dunn to settle the in-form gelding closer to the speed in the 2014 Sandown Stakes.
“He will go in and get some cover, but I don’t think he needs to be too far back,” Corstens said.
“Fourth or fifth or somewhere like that on the rail would be ideal and hopefully he can be produced at the right time.”
General Groove has generally been given short racing campaigns during his career to date and Corstens admits that he does not have any immediate plans with the five-year-old, but will likely keep him in work if he can produce another strong performance in the Sandown Stakes on Saturday.
“We will just see where we go with him,” Corstens said.
“He hasn’t had an arduous campaign and if we can get a nice win out of somewhere, if he doesn’t win on Saturday, we would probably head towards something like that.
“He is a nice summer horse and you can’t earn prizemoney out in the paddock.”
General Groove is currently available at 2014 Sandown Stakes odds of $13, while Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet ($2.40) is a clear favourite from Red Bomber ($4.20) and Speediness ($5).