An Adelaide Cup start for Signoff is getting further out of sight after trainer Darren Weir erred on the side of caution and scratched the six year old from the $90,000 Robert Hunter Handicap (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Weir and his team of owners have been frustrated after Signoff returned a positive swab to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen after he scored a first up win in the Listed $120,000 Lord Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on Boxing Day.
Signoff had been treated with ibuprofen for a leg injury in the months leading up to his return to the races and Weir had the six year old tested prior to the Lord Stakes with the results coming back negative.
But the drug was detected in post race swabs forcing Weir to scratch Signoff from the $90,000 Piping Lane Handicap (2000m) at Flemington on January 16, to avoid another positive reading even though the treatment had been stopped.
Ongoing tested have returned negative results but Weir was advised that a negative result could not be guaranteed if he raced on the weekend, so he decided to scratch again.
Weir was keen to run Signoff over the 2400m at Caulfield on Saturday but will now galloped the stayer before the first race instead, hoping to keep his fitness levels up if he proceeds with a start in the Group 2 $400,000 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 14.
“We have done all we could have can do to ensure that he is going to present at the races ibuprofen free, but obviously there is no guarantees for that,” Weir told Racing Ahead.
“It is a little bit of Russian Roulette really.”
“They say that his tests are right but there are no guarantees.”
“So it is a bit of a tricky one really.”
“We err on the edge of precaution. They say it is up to you whether you run because there is no guarantee. A very tricky situation really.”
“He is just not going to get the racing into him that is required for a two mile preparation and I’d say the Adelaide cup is over if he doesn’t run tomorrow I would think.
Weir said even though the situation is very frustrating, the connections fully understand the circumstances that are keeping Signoff away from racing.
“It’s disappointing I guess that they understand the situations just as I do. The stewards and the vets have been very helpful in the situation. They have done all they can,” Weir said.
“I guess they are just like me and just want some answers when he can go back to the races.”
Signoff was racing in the best form of his career during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival with a win in the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington that secured him a place in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington three days later.
Signoff ran a mighty race on the First Tuesday in November and made up plenty of ground in the straight to run fourth to the German stayer Protectionist.