David Hayes has elected to remove Crackerjack King from the 2014 Turnbull Stakes field and his place in the Group 1 event will be taken by stablemate Stipulate.
Crackerjack King made his Australian racing debut over an unsuitable distances in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 9 and produced an improved effort in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 before he returned to a semblance of his best form with a third place finish in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20.
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) is the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Crackerjack King and after the Shamardal entire drew towards the outside of the 2014 Turnbull Stakes field, Hayes decided to save the six-year-old for the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) next weekend.
“We think that he is very close to peak fitness and if he got a tough run it might jeopardize next weeks race, which is the race that we set him for all along the Caulfield Stakes,” Hayes told Sky Racing HQ.
“He is flying the horse, he is in great order, but we just didn’t want to give him two hard runs before the Cox Plate.
“We just thought that we would give him one hard run next week.”
Stipulate was originally named as the first emergency for the Turnbull Stakes, but will now have the opportunity to contest the Group 1 event at Flemington this weekend.
The Dansili gelding won the Listed Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on August 30 in impressive fashion, but the race was not run to suit when he finished seventh in the Underwood Stakes.
Hayes is confident that Stipulate can produce an improved performance in the Turnbull Stakes this weekend and he will then decide whether the five-year-olds steps up to 2400 metres for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) or clashes with Crackerjack King in the Cox Plate.
“Because of that ridiculous tempo early in that race, the backmarkers had no chance,” Hayes said of the Underwood Stakes.
“We went back with him and he ran home in good solid sectionals.
“He was brilliant first-up and I think that he will be very good under these conditions.
“He would be one to follow I’d say.
“2000 meters I know is ideal and a mile and a half I’m not sure.
“We will see how he finishes on Saturday and make a decision on Monday.”
Stipulate is currently available at 2014 Turnbull Stakes odds of $8.50 to give Hayes his first win in the Group 1 event since he took out the 1990 edition of the race with Better Loosen Up.