Australia's richest autumn sprint could be in for a major reshuffle on Friday when forgotten dual Group 1 winner Vega Magic trials for a place in the $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes.
Vega Magic is one of a number of elite sprinters including Trapeze Artist, Osborne Bulls, Shoals and Santa Ana Lane set to trial at Randwick on Friday - eight days before the T.J. Smith, which is one of four Group 1s to kick-off The Championships.
Vega Magic has not been seen since finishing near the tail of the field in last October's The Everest, where the former Western Australian sprinter injured a tendon that ruled him out of the rest of the spring and the early autumn.
It was only 18 months ago that Vega Magic ran as the $4.80 favourite in The Everest and finished second to Redzel but the sprinter is not among the leading contenders for the T.J. Smith over the same course with $21 or better widely available on the gelding.
David Hayes, picture Quentinjlang.com
Co-trainer David Hayes said on Wednesday that the Memsie Stakes winner of 2017 has been quietly progressing in his rehabilitation and that Friday's 1050-metre trial will be the final test for the six-year-old before the April 6 feature.
"He had to have an easy couple of months after The Everest as he tore a tendon sheath," Hayes confirmed. "He did a heap of rehab and here we are, we're ready to go again.
"He trialled up the straight behind the Newmarket winner (Sunlight) and he trialled really well. He's had a really nice, slow build-up. He hasn't been rushed.
"If he gets through the trial, he'll go to the T.J. unless it's a very heavy track. If he came through the T.J. he'll go to the All Aged Stakes."
Lindsay Park has chances in both Group 1s at Rosehill on Saturday with Qafila representing the stable in the Coolmore Classic.
"Qafila's first run in Sydney (fourth in the Phar Lap Stakes) was not on suitable ground and with her good barrier (one) she'll improve on Saturday," he said.
Imports Muntahaa and Ventura Storm will run in the $1.5 million Tancred Stakes with Hayes hopeful that Muntahaa can improve from his first-up 11th in the Australian Cup at Flemington.
"I'm pretty happy with the way he's ticking along," he said. "He's improved and I think with the easy (Soft) conditions and the mile-and-a-half, he'll make a big improvement on his way to the Sydney Cup.
"Ventura Storm is on the quick back-up (after running fifth in the Mornington Cup) but he backs up very well."
Friday's Randwick trials also feature the likes of Happy Clapper, who is trying to get his autumn back on track after an internal bleed when unplaced in The All-Star Mile at Flemington, as well as prime Australian Derby hopefuls Global Exchange and Declarationofheart.