Progressive stayer Sertorius is set to make his Group 1 debut in the Orr Stakes (1400m) in what trainer Jamie Edwards hopes will be the start of a successful 2014 Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
Sertorius burst onto the scene with five straight wins during the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival, including the Sale Cup (1600m), and proved that he was up to Group level with a number of impressive preparations this spring.
The Galileo gelding broke through for his maiden win at Listed level with a comfortable victory in the Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) and finished a narrow second behind Precedence in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) before claiming victory in the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m).
Sertorius was sent straight to the spelling paddock after his Zipping Classic victory on November 16 but has already returned to work and Edwards told Racing Ahead that he could not be happier with the way that the six-year-old handled his time away from the stable.
“He has been back in work for about a week,” Edwards said.
“He only had a month off but it was easily the best that he has ever spelled.
“He is in ripping condition and he is ready for an autumn campaign.
“He has come up three springs in a row by giving him a light autumn and this is going to be the first time that we are actually going to give the horse a proper prep through the autumn.
“It is a little bit of an unknown for us but he could not possible be in better condition.”
Edwards believes that Sertorius has earned a shot at Group 1 level and will give him the opportunity to compete at weight-for-age level; with the Orr Stakes (1400m), Australian Cup (2000m) and The BMW (2400m) all on the agenda for the talented gelding.
The Freshwater Creek-based trainer admitted that he is still unsure whether Sertorius is good enough to be competitive at this level but believes that he has given the Zipping Classic winner an ideal preparation for a tilt at the highest level of racing.
“It has been baby steps with him but now he is ready to step up and play with the big boys,” Edwards said.
“If he is not good enough then he is not good enough but we will walk away at the end of the autumn knowing that we could have treated or placed the horse any better.
“We will run him first-up in the Orr, which is on the eighth of February and then we will play it by ear.
“I suppose that his grand final is going to be The BMW if he is good enough.
“We will probably run him through the Australian Cup and if he is not up to that Group 1 weight-for-age level we will go to the paddock and get ready for the handicaps in the spring.”
Edwards is chasing his first victory at Group 1 level since he won the 2007 South Australian Derby (2500m) with Lazer Sharp who went on to finish tenth behind Efficient in the 2007 Melbourne Cup (3200m).