Trainer Robbie Griffiths has revealed that The Quarterback will be set for the 2016 Oakleigh Plate before he takes on the best sprinters in the country in the Newmarket Handicap.
The Quarterback started his 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with credible performances in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 5, the Le Pine Funerals Handicap (1100m) at Caulfield on September 26 and the Listed Caulfield Village (1200m) on October 14 before he returned to winning form with a fast-finishing victory in the Listed Earl Grey Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day.
Griffiths elected to send The Quarterback straight to the spelling paddock following his impressive win, but he is now back in work and the Cranbourne-based trainer told Racing.com that the Street Boss gelding would have the chance to defend his title in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on January 30 before he returns to Group 1 level for both the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 27 and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12.
“He is training in good form and we are heading to returning in the autumn where he can progress through the types of races that he has been running in,” Griffiths said.
“He will kick-off in the Kensington and that gives us four weeks to have a crack at the Oakleigh Plate and into the Newmarket.
“That is what we are hoping to do and he is in really good order.”
The Quarterback has been outclassed in his two previous starts at Group 1 level in the Australian Guineas and Black Caviar Lightning Stakes and Griffiths elected to bypass the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) with the five-year-old at the end of his spring campaign.
Griffiths admits that The Quarterback still needs to find some improvement to be competitive at the highest level of racing, but he has taken plenty of excitement from the way that the gelding hit the line in the Earl Grey Stakes.
“I am happy that we stayed home,” Griffiths said.
“I thought that he was borderline being ready for a race of that class with the likes of Buffering.
“He has had a little rest and he is now nice and bright and well.
“We haven’t put him under the real acid test yet because he is not running until the 30th of January, but his win was very exciting and he can reel off some unbelievable sectionals.
“It was great to see it on a track that was soft.
“We are hoping that with that sort of sprint he can make the next step.”
The Quarterback has recorded seven race wins from his 21 starts and he has accumulated almost $450,000 in prizemoney for connections.