Just a few hours before voting closed on Monday for next month’s All-Star Mile at Flemington, one of the inaugural race’s best-credentialled gallopers showed his thousands of supporters he was right on track for the $5 million race.
‘’Perfect’’ was how trainer Mick Price described Grunt’s (NZ) third placing in a 990-metre trial, which was the four-year-old’s first public appearance since he failed to beat a runner home in last spring’s Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, won so famously by Winx.
But Grunt, who was well-placed in third position in All-Star Mile voting before last Friday’s black-out of the leader board, showed his trainer he has responded to a lengthy spell and a long build-up to his expected return early next month at Flemington.
‘’He did everything I wanted to see,’’ Price said after Grunt’s third placing under jockey Michael Dee behind the group 1 winning sprinter Malaguerra.
‘’Another 100 yards he probably sticks his head out and wins.
‘’He’s going great. His attitude is good and the horse is good.’’
Grunt will be ridden by Damien Oliver when he resumes in the Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap over 1400 metres at Flemington on March 2 and again two weeks later in the All-Star Mile if he was to make the final field, as is anticipated.
Price’s horses were certainly to the fore at the Cranbourne trials on Monday with wins from the likes of emerging staying filly Oceanex, who is on track for a clash with the colts in next month’s $1 million Randwick Guineas on March 9 before her ultimate autumn goal, the group 1 $500,000 Vinery Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 30.
‘’The Guineas is going to be very tough but it sits well because I need to get a mile race into her and if she could run well, run a place, it could only be good for her value and it will be a great lead-up to the (group 1) Vinery,’’ Price said.
‘’That is the race that really appeals for her.’’
Group winning sprinter She’s So High also showed she was on track for a profitable autumn with her trial victory, while group 1 Champagne Stakes winner Seabrook ran second in her trial and is showing she will be ready to resume at Flemington on March 2.
Grunt (NZ), picture Quentinjlang.com