Darren Weir’s progressive Japanese import Tosen Stardom will track towards a likely Cox Plate bid this spring with a second-up run in the Underwood Stakes on September 24.
The six-year-old Deep Impact stallion debuted for his new trainer Weir last Saturday at Moonee Valley Racecourse for a brave fourth to Awesome Rock in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
Leon & Troy Corstens confirmed plans to target the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) back at the track on October 22 with Awesome Rock, the hard luck story in the autumn’s Australian Cup, immediately after his Dato’ success.
The Fastnet Rock stallion gained a ballot free ride into Australasia’s weight-for-age championship with the Group 2 victory, his first since losing the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on protest to Preferment on March 12.
Weir will also be hoping the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes form stacks up in the classic next month as he prepares Tosen Stardom for a possible rematch.
In Japan Weir’s latest stable acquisition enjoyed dual Group 3 victories, with his latest turf triumph being over 1800m in the Listed Cassiopeia Stakes at Kyoto last November.
The Australian Bloodstock (AB) owned galloper was sent to Weir upon his arrival in Oz earlier this year with the Cox Plate always in sight.
AB director Jamie Lovett confirmed Tosen Stardom would head towards the Cox Plate via run in a fortnight’s time at Caulfield Racecourse in the $500,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
“We’re pushing forward with him,” Lovett Racing Ahead on RSN on Wednesday.
“He did what we expected him to do – some of his better form in Japan is on his Sydney leg, so it was a bit of an unknown how he’d handle the Valley.
“He had no luck – I thought [jockey] Johnny Allen put him in the right spot, and he had horses climbing over him, leaning on him and he never really got a look as far as galloping room until the last furlong and a bit.
“So I loved the way he attacked the line, and once we get him out to a trip and those bigger tracks, he’ll really appreciate it.”
The past two Underwood Stakes winners were backing-up from runs in the Dato’ with Foreteller (3rd in 2014) and Mourinho (6th in 2015), form that bodes well for Tosen Stardom this spring.
John Allen, who jumps aboard Weir’s Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance in the $500,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) this weekend at Flemington, rode Tosen Stardom first-up.
Globetrotting hoop Craig Williams has been confirmed to take his place in the saddle for the Underwood Stakes.
“Craig Williams will ride him in the Underwood,” Lovett said.
Williams has a good affinity with Japanese raiders on Aussie soil having partnered the Yasutoshi Matsunaga-trained Hokko Brave for his Spring Cups’ bid last season running 10th in the Caulfield Cup and 17th in the Melbourne Cup.
Racing Victoria took Cox Plate first declarations on Tuesday and Tosen Stardom is one of seven Weir-trained hopes among the 87 entries still in contention.
Lovett said the horse’s performance in the Underwood Stakes would be the deciding factor regarding the Cox Plate where Chris Waller’s defending champion Winx is shaping up as hard to beat.
“There’s always a concern getting around the [tight Moonee] Valley [track],” he said.
“The Cox Plate’s not set in stone, but the Underwood will tell us more.”
Winx is the firm $2.40 favourite in all-in Cox Plate markets at Ladbrokes.com.au, while Tosen Stardom is at $17 for the upset.