Xtravagant failed to produce anything in his first competitive appearance this time, but has been confirmed to take his place in the field for Saturday’s 2016 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Xtravagant has been the standout performer in his native New Zealand for his entire racing career so far but is yet to show much in two starts this side of the ditch; running eighth in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in autumn before failing to beat a runner to the line in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) a fortnight ago.
Co-trainer Stephen Autridge said that the team were at odds as to why Xtravagant didn’t perform well first-up, but he is confident that a return to racing with a bend will prove pivotal in the horse’s return to form in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2016.
“We don’t know what happened at Flemington,” Autridge told AAP.
“The one thing we did see was he got on one leg and refused to change. Why we don’t know.
“What we do know is he’s twice as good left handed as right, so I suppose in a straight line he might have got lost.”
Damien Oliver partnered the Penbtire entire in a barrier trial at Cranbourne on Monday and the veteran hoop is confident the horse is primed for a big run second-up.
“I gave him a bit of a squeeze at the top of the straight and he quickened really good,” Oliver said.
“I eased him down more so because he is running on Saturday and we didn’t want him having a tough 1200 metres on a heavy track.
“It was good he got on early on a pretty decent surface.
“He got through the ground and he pulled up well so I can’t see why we can’t go ahead with Saturday.”
Posting six wins and a minor through eleven career starts so far, Xtravagant posted three-consecutive wins through a standout summer and early autumn campaign this year, highlighted by a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m).
The 2016 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
Open an account and bet with Ladbrokes.com.au to take advantage of the best 2016 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes odds!