A change of spring plans for Darren Weir’s Japanese import Tosen Stardom will see the galloper take on superstar mare Winx in Saturday week’s George Main Stakes in Sydney over his previous Underwood Stakes target.
In a brave move confirmed by co-owner Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock (AB), the six-year-old will now run on September 17 at Royal Randwick in the $500,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
The George Main Stakes, registered this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival as the Colgate Optic White Stakes, is the second-up target for Chris Waller’s brilliant daughter of Street Cry Winx.
Weir and AB aren’t afraid to take on Australia’s best racehorse however.
They are hoping Tosen Stardom can show his full potential in the weight-for-age mile showdown to gauge whether it is worth pressing onto another Winx clash in the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
“If we get walloped by Winx in the George Main there is not much point thinking we can beat her in the Cox Plate,” Lovett told Racing Victoria.
“That is not to say I think that would happen, I think he is in great form and will run a nice race in the George Main Stakes.
“But it gives us a chance to see where we are really at compared to the benchmark.
“It is a bit of a fork in the road as following it we can either press on towards the Cox Plate or maybe head to the Caulfield Cup or even lower our sights if we have to.”
A winner of five of his 15 career starts to date, Tosen Stardom has had three runs in Sydney including a debut for Weir first-up last weekend when under three lengths away fourth to the Cox Plate-bound winner Awesome Rock in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at the Valley.
His other two Aussie runs came as a still Japanese-trained visitor during last year’s Sydney Spring Carnival.
He raced at Rosehill in March of 2015 first-up for a brave second to Contributer in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) before a fifth to Criterion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) that season at Randwick.
Defending Cox Plate winner Winx is the short-priced favourite at $2.40 through Ladbrokes.com.au in futures betting for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, while Tosen Stardom is listed as a $17 shot for the upset.
“Darren Weir advised if we are trying to look at securing a stallion deal, it might be worth having a throw at the stumps because Winx is the biggest name in racing and if we happen to claim her scalp, he would be a G1 winner over a mile at weight-for-age and did it beating the best around,” Lovett added.
Winner of the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up by an easy margin to make it 10 straight victories, Winx missed a run in last Saturday’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) due to the rain.
She was kept fit for her George Main Stakes run on Friday morning with a Warwick Farm hit-out, the six-time Group 1 winner back to her best with a cruisy third over 1000m on the Soft (6) track.
Her regular rider Hugh Bowman was aboard for the brilliant display where, after settling mid-field, she peeled out four wide on the turn for home to close hard and cross third behind Dothraki and Decision Time.
Craig Williams meanwhile has confirmed he will make the trip to Sydney to stay aboard Tosen Stardom in the George Main Stakes if allowed.
Williams faces the RAD Board tonight appealing a 10-meeting careless riding suspension and Lovett said the result of that appeal will determine who rides Tosen Stardom next-up.
“We will wait until the result of the appeal before deciding if we need to look at finding another jockey,” he said.