Jason Collett will be a new rider for unbeaten Newcastle three-year-old Graff when he makes his new season debut at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Star Witness colt lines up in the $150,000 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) against his own age as he treads a path to the $1m, Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill next month.
Trainer Kris Lees confirmed Collett’s booking for Graff, who won both his two-year-old starts for Hugh Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy.
Bowman rode Graff to win over the San Domenico course on April 2 in a 2YO maiden before McEvoy took the mount when he won the Clarendon Stakes (1300m) at Hawkesbury’s metropolitan stand-alone fixture on April 28.
Graff trialled strongly at Gosford on August 6 when narrowly beaten by Wyong Magic Millions winner Jonker over 800m.
Jason Collett, picture Sportpix.com.au
Jonker is also an entry for the G3 San Domenico Stakes.
“I’m very happy with Graff’s progress and Saturday’s race will be a nice starting point for him,” Lees said.
“The plan is to get to the Golden Rose via the San Domenico and then the Run To The Rose.”
The $200,000, Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) will be run at Rosehill on September 8 followed by the Golden Rose on September 22.
Lees also is pursuing a Golden Rose start with another unbeaten three-year-old Gem Song, who pleased him in a Newcastle barrier trial on Monday.
With Aaron Bullock aboard, the Your Song colt ran home strongly to finish second to the year older Sneaky Fella over 1000m after making the home turn wide.
Gem Song Horseform scored over 1200m on debut in midweek company at Warwick Farm on April 11 then graduated to Saturday company with an 1100m Rosehill victory on May 5.
Collett rode him in both wins.
“Gem Song will go to the Run To The Rose and then the Golden Rose,” Lees said.