Triple Sydney premiership winning trainer Chris Waller will use Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) as a guide to which of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival majors he targets his crack import Beaten Up toward this season.
Waller dominates the Warwick Stakes field this year saddling up six of the 14 acceptors in the telling weight-for-age spring warm-up.
The shortest-priced of his contingent who are all looking to kick off their new season campaigns is Beat Hollow five-year-old Beaten Up.
The former English-trained galloper has been racing down under with Waller since the start of the autumn having had four starts for their new trainer.
While their opening two Sydney starts left a lot to be desired they came into their own at Hawkesbury in May when just nudged out of the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) win by a nose.
Then it was into the big time at Brisbane during the winter carnival where they beat home stablemate Foreteller in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m).
They return to racing on Saturday at Warwick Farm joined in the Warwick Stakes by five other Waller-trained runners including Doomben Cup runner-up Foreteller.
Waller knows they, like all of his team in the race, will take great improvement from Saturday’s run and is eyeing off bigger things for them later in the season in Victoria.
“There’s a long prep ahead, it’s important to start somewhere and it’s good to do it close to home,” Waller said on TVN this week.
“There’s a couple there that I could have sent to Melbourne, but I thought it’s right just to keep them here a little bit longer.
“It’s tough racing down in Melbourne if they head that way and it’ll be good to get them cherry ripe before heading down there.”
Beaten Up has been nominated for both the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19 as well as the WFA $3 million Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley the following Saturday.
Which of these they will best be suited for is yet to be decided by Waller, something he hopes will become clearer after their first-up run.
“He’ll be headed towards Melbourne, hopefully the Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup, and the first couple of runs in his preparation will tell us which one’s realistic,” he said.
In the current Warwick Stakes markets Beaten Up is rated an $11 chance to defeat the odds-on favourite Rain Affair ($1.80), Joe Pride’s Sydney speedster coming off a five and a half length win in the Group 3 Missile Stakes.
For the Caulfield Cup Beaten Up is rated an $18 chance, while for the Cox Plate they’re at a slightly longer quote of $26.
Aside from his Doomben Cup quinella Waller’s other Warwick Stakes runners this weekend are returning veteran Metal Bender, Melbourne Cup-bound Kelinni, Brisbane Cup champ Moriarty and Queensland Derby winner Hawkspur.
The Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes runs as Warwick Farm Race 6 at 3:40pm (AEST) on Saturday.