Australian Derby winner Tavago is out of the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday and will have his next Spring Carnival start at Caulfield next week.
Co-trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young have aborted a trip to Sydney this weekend from their new Cranbourne base outside of Melbourne and will now set Tavago for the Group 1 $500,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield next Saturday.
Busuttin said it was never a certainty that he would head to Randwick this week and in the end decided against a long return float trip for the four year old.
“He was always 50-50 whether to go,” Busuttin told Racing.com’s Racing Ahead on RSN 927.
“I probably jumped to a harsh reaction (to sign him up for the Hill Stakes) with his first-up run (in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Staks).
“While the distance suits, the 20-hour-round float trip to Sydney and back seems just a bit too much at this stage of the preparation.”
Tavago had his first run since winning the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick during the Sydney Autumn Carnival when an uninspiring eleventh to Awesome Rock in the Group 2 $250,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 3.
Busuttin’s initial reaction was that Tavago performed below expectations but after some thought was prepared to overlook the run and step the gelding up in distance.
“The horse was definitely looking for 2000m, but I was initially disappointed with the run,” Busuttin said.
“While it was still fair, I thought he needed to get up over 2000m.”
“He probably needed to be ridden 2-3 lengths back off the pace,” the Victoria Derby-winning trainer said.
“It was through no fault of the jockey, the horse jumped and put himself there and travelled keen.
“He was at top speed to hold his position, and was running on empty at the line rather than sitting back off them and hitting the line.
“He’s come through it well – no point dwelling on it.”
Busuttin said that the tactics will be different in the Underwood Stakes and the instructions will be to settle Tavago near the tail of the field in the early and middle stages before letting down in the straight.
“We’ll drop him out the back and have him hitting the line and that’ll top him off nicely for the Caulfield Cup,” Busuttin said.
Tavago is heading towards the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup at Caulfield on October 15 and he will have his final lead up run to the Spring Carnival 2400m Feature in the Underwood Stakes.
In early Caulfield Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Tavago is listed as a $21 chance.
The scratching of Tavago has left seven runners to contest the Hill Stakes with the John O’Shea trained Hartnell dominating the betting at $1.45 at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Market order for the Hill Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.45 Hartnell, $8.50 Preferment, $9 Magic Hurricane, $12 Storm The Stars, $14 Who Shot Thebarman, $15 Grand Marshall, $26 Signoff.