New Path Plotted for Star Mare

Date: 26 Aug 2021

New Path Plotted for Star Mare



Gilbert Gardiner of reports:


Champion New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards has settled on the Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday as the launching pad for star mare Probabeel's reshuffled spring raid.

The three-time Group 1 winner, who arrived in Melbourne last week, will stretch the legs at Caulfield on Tuesday with Damian Lane in the saddle.

Probabeel was originally being aimed at the Group 1 Memsie Stakes but a minor recent setback - a spike in temperature - forced a change of plans after the mare missed several days of work.

“Going 1400m (Memsie) first up (is risky) we might present on the side of caution,” Richards said.

“Everything is good with her, she's a pretty seasoned traveller now and settled back into the routine at Flemington nicely.”

Richards will bypass the weight-for-age races as a result, electing instead to target the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke and Toorak handicaps before setting a “grand final” in stone.

The Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes on October 30 remains front of mind, however, conditions and form could result in a pivot to the Cox Plate seven days earlier at The Valley.

“For sure the Cox Plate has certainly got a lot of appeal and (owners) Brendan and Jo are really keen on it but whether a mile (1600m) is her best trip or 2000m is her best distance,” Richards said.

“She certainly needs a dry deck, no doubt about that, I guess Cox Plate or Empire Rose is grand final day.”

Probabeel was the among the leading Cox Plate contenders last year but a wet track torpedoed chances of winning the Australasian weight-for-age championship.

The mare returned in the autumn to win the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes and Group 1 Futurity Stakes - both at Caulfield - only then to have the $5m All-Star Mile wrecked by a bottomless track.

Probabeel recovered from the taxing run at The Valley to be runner-up in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes at Randwick, prior to spelling in New Zealand.

Strapper Ashley Handley is in Melbourne with Probabeel, with Richards resigned to watching from afar again due to Covid restrictions and quarantine requirements.

He considered skipping the Memsie and switching back to the weight-for-age Makybe Diva but the sharp rise in distance second-up is of concern.

“It's tricky to go from 1200m to 1600m, so I think we'll probably space her runs out a little bit, which she does seem to enjoy,” Richards said.

“She's a big mare now, a proper sized 550kg and will race somewhere around that weight.”

Probabeel weighed in around 520kg in previous preparations.

TAB has Probabeel at the pointy end of all pre-nominations markets for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes ($6), Makybe Diva Stakes ($6), Toorak Handicap ($11) and Empire Rose ($8) while she is a $21 chance in the “all-in” Cox Plate market.


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