Kiwi sprinter Xtravagant will be given another chance to prove himself on Australian soil when he lines up in the Group 1 $500,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards trained Xtravagant has arrived in Australia twice with great credentials but has failed at both his starts at Flemington.
In his three year old year Xtravagant was sent out the $2.70 favourite in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington during the 2016 Melbourne Autumn Carnival but after over-racing in the lead, faded in the straight to finish eight to Palentino.
Then last start the Pentire stallion failed to beat a runner home when a distant twelfth to Faatinah in the Group 2 $200,000 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) down the Flemington straight on September 10.
Xtravagant has been playing up in the saddling enclosure prior to going out onto the track and Autridge thinks that could have contributed to his poor performance last start.
Autridge approached the stewards for some help and they will allow Xtravagant to enter and leave the parade ring before the other horses arrive.
“We’ve been given permission from the stewards to be first-in, first-out,” Autridge told Racing.com’s Racing Ahead on RSN 927,
“Once you get to the barriers, he’s pretty good.
“If we can help him there, it might be all that we need.”
Xtravagant has opened at $12 with Ladbrokes.com.au after drawing barrier six with Damien Oliver taking the mount again after riding him in the Bobbie Lewis Quality as well in a recent Cranbourne barrier trial when he was pleased with his fourth placing.
Top weight and Bobbie Lewis fourth placegetter Under The Louvre ($7 to $6.50) has drawn barrier fourteen in the sixteen horse field but the wide gate shouldn’t worry the Robert Smerdon trained six year old with regular rider Dwayne Dunn usually settling him in the second half of the field.
Bobbie Lewis Quality runner up Tivaci has drawn at three and Patrick Moloney will be able to give him a beautiful run from that inside gate.
Premiership winning trainer Darren Weir will have two runners, in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, early favourite Voodoo Lad and the long priced Telopea.
Voodoo Lad will jump from barrier ten with Chris Parnham in the saddle and the I Am Invincible five year old had been installed the $4.40 favourite but has quickly firmed into $4 on the strength of his two wins in his last two outings in the Listed $120,000 Lister Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on August 13 and in the Listed $120,000 SAJ Fruit Supply Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 3.
While Telopea has opened a $16 chance coming off a last start eighth to Don’t Doubt Mamma in the Group 2 $200,000 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 10.
Second favourite Counterattack ($4.80 into $4.50) has drawn barrier seven with Craig Williams in the saddle and heads to Caulfield on the back of a very unlucky first up second to his stablemate Mackintosh in the Group 2 $200,000 Task Retail Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on September 10.
Trainer Chris Waller had also accepted with Counterattack in the Group 2 $175,000 Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday but has scratched him from that race, preferring to run in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Tycoon Tara was also a dual city acceptor on Saturday but Team Snowden have scratched her from the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and have elected to run her in the Group 2 $400,000 Ronald McDonald House Westmead Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill.
Last start Flemington winner Bon Aurum is also well in the betting at $6 and has drawn nicely at barrier five with Kerrin McEvoy booked to ride.
Market order for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Voodoo Lad, $4.50 Counterattack, $6 Bon Aurum, $6.50 Under The Louvre, $10 Tivaci, $12 Xtravagant, $16 Thames Court, Telopea, $20 Fast ‘N’ Rocking, $21 Mr Individual, $31 Badawiya, $41 Rangipo, $31 Charmed Harmony, Well Spring, $61 Jungle Edge.