Sydney’s big wet has helped persuade the La Crique team to send her to Melbourne for a potential pair of Flemington features.
La Crique’s dominant victory in the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) at Matamata on Saturday raised a number of questions about her potential next target, with the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings this coming Saturday seen as a potential option.
But Katrina Alexander, who trains the mare at Matamata with her husband Simon, said they would stick with their plan of going to Australia, targeting the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares at Flemington on October 29 and then possibly the Gr.1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at the same track a week later.
Though La Crique is still in the A$10 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 29, the weather in Sydney, which has endured a horrendously wet year, and the lesser status of the Golden Eagle means Melbourne is a better option for them.
“There’s a lot of money up for grabs for sure in the Golden Eagle, which makes it very tempting, and I’m sure she’s more than capable of running a huge race there, but the weather does make us a little bit nervous,” Alexander said.
“But her owners (John and Jen Cassin), will be looking to breed from her eventually, the Group One status of the Empire Rose is important to them. They are keener to go for a traditional black type programme for her instead.”
The Mackinnon, against the males, is only a week later than the Empire Rose, but Alexander is confident she could handle two races in consecutive weeks.
“History tells us that the more she races, the easier she is to manage. She put together a fairly lengthy campaign last time and continued to thrive,” Alexander said.
“We’ve never backed her up this quickly before, but because she thrives on the racing we’d be happy to run her in the Mackinnon if she’s doing well we’d give her a crack at it.”
Alexander had considered even bigger targets for La Crique, who won the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and was an unlucky second in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), but she’s decided they would be better for La Crique as a five-year-old.
“To me she’s a Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m) horse, when the time’s right for her,” Alexander said.
“It was thrown around for this year, but even after the Derby last year our plan was to go to Australia for a look-around, pick a couple of races that might suit her nicely, and then really target something like the Cox Plate as a five-year-old.
“This year’s Cox Plate also looks like it will be extremely strong so it’s possibly not a year too for that.”
Alexander said La Crique had recovered very well from the Arrowfield Stud Plate, something that was helped by having the race on her home track and thus avoiding a long float ride.
“We find after a trip of any length that for a couple of days you have to leave them alone, but we were able to take her to the track this morning and she was very happy,” she said.
La Crique has been booked to fly to Australia on October 18. Alexander said it was likely she would be based at Mornington, south of Melbourne, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Also still to be confirmed is who will ride La Crique in Melbourne, with the Alexanders considering a few potential jockeys.
“We are looking at the options,” she said. “I don’t want to say who we’re in discussions with – that’s a process that’s going on at the moment – but we’d be more than comfortable with the choices that we have in front of us.”
Alexander doesn’t have many other horses in work at present. Her mare Farrenc was due to race at Matamata on Saturday but was scratched after drawing wide and will seek another option shortly.
“She’s been very honest and has run in behind some nice horses so I’m hoping she finds a bit of form before the tracks get too firm for her,” she said.
Te Toki, fourth in the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) last season, is in work, while Alexander is looking forward to seeing her five-year-old mare Stopalltheclocks, a two-race winner, resume.
“We’ve been waiting for her to strengthen up. She’ll head towards staying distances this season,” she said.
Stopalltheclocks will trial at Te Awamutu for Alexander tomorrow, along with the unraced filly Franni Caccini.