Co-trainer Adrian Bott is confident that talented stayer Stampede will prove tough to beat when he steps out in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday.
Stampede returned to racing in career-best form to date during the autumn and winter carnivals this year and was sent to the paddock after posting consecutive wins in the Listed Wagga Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) and Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m).
Bott has underlined the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) as the major campaign target for Stampede this time and is hopeful that the horse will secure ballot-free entry into the race, allocated to the winner of the Naturalism Stakes.
“We pencilled in the Caulfield Cup as a race we’d love to target with him,” Bott told AAP.
“After winning in Queensland we decided to pull the pin early on his Queensland campaign just to really focus on giving him his chance at the better quality staying features over the carnival.
“That gave us enough time to put him out, give him a quick turnaround and bring him back and try to prepare for a race like the Caulfield Cup.
“His first-up ran gave us a lot of confidence and obviously Saturday is the next natural progression.
“It will be tougher competition on Saturday, so we’ll need to see him take that next step.
“But he’s a horse who continues to improve as we raise the bar and if he keeps on that upward spiral we’ll keep pressing on towards that path.”
Stampede debuted to racing during the late spring of 2015 and immediately stamped himself as horse to following; finishing second first-up before posting consecutive wins in a part of Sydney metropolitan races over 1400m and 1900m respectively.
Left in the paddock for more than a year, Stampede resumed in March this year for second in a Warwick Farm 1400m race, before returning to winning form in the William Beach Brasserie BM78 (1600m) on March 23rd.
Second in the Bowermans Furniture BM78 (1600m) on April 12th, the entire out of Nothin’ Leica Cat placed fourth in the Anzac Appeal Cup (2000m) in what was his only other start prior to the Wagga Wagga Gold Cup, but resumed this time for a smart win in the Craig Opie Cup (1600m) at The Valley a fortnight ago.
Stampede is currently considered a $6 chance in Naturalism Stakes betting markets and a $34 shot in early 2017 Caulfield Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.