SCONE trainer Brett Cavanough is banking on a softer preparation to prove the difference for Kosciuszko hopeful The Monstar in the Concorde Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
The eight-year-old gelding, with Hugh Bowman aboard, will line up for his 50th race start in the group 3 over 1000 metres which will feature resuming Everest runners Redzel and Invincible Star.
The Monstar was fourth to Redzel in the same race last year and was an impressive length third behind Pierata and Kementari in the group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) a month ago. Cavanough has lightened the load on The Monstar since that most recent run with the shorter distance in mind.
“I think it’s pretty similar to last year,” Cavanough said.
“He’s just repeating the races he went around and he’s trying to repeat his form. Probably the only thing different is I’ve been a bit softer on him and kept him a bit more supple and fresh for the 1000 metres.
“That’s the only question mark. Usually I’ve got him screwed down and ready to go. We’re a month between runs and we didn’t do a jump-out, and keep him rock hard fit.
“You’ve got to try something and if he gets beaten out of sight, we’ll it’s my fault, but I’m happy with how he’s worked and how he looks.”
The Monstar has been a stable star for Cavanough, winning $756,690 in prizemoney, and was $7 with the TAB for the new $1.3 million Kosciuszko race for country horses to be run on Everest day October 13 at Randwick.
“Obviously it’s on everyone’s radar and it’s on ours,” he said of the Kosciuszko.
“But we’ve just got to let it unfold in front of us. As soon as you start concentrating on one race, everything can go sideways on you. We’ve concentrated on keeping our horse well and if he’s fit on October 13, we’ll be there.”
Cavanough was also targetting The Shorts and a Melbourne spring campaign with The Monstar.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, meanwhile, will have runners in the other three stakes races on the Randwick program.
Le Romain will contest the Tramway Stakes (1400m) where he could push hopes of gaining a slot in the $13 million Everest.
Slot-holders Max Whitby and Neil Werrett told Racenet this week Le Romain was among six horses they are monitoring. The Australian Turf Club is the other slot-holder yet to confirm its runner.
Lees said he has had discussions with Whitby and Werrett “on a very casual basis.”
“It’s pretty open so we’ll see,” Lees said. “Hopefully a nice run tomorrow will keep him in their train of thought.”
Lees also has exciting filly Miss Fabulass in the Furious Stakes and Prized Icon in the Chelmsford Stakes.
On Friday, another boom Lees filly, Smart Melody, remained unbeaten when Kerrin McEvoy navigated a narrow gap near the rail before she sprinted clear at Wyong (1100m) in a benchmark handicap.
“They all wanted to get off the fence, so there was a bit of a run there,” Lees said.
“That’s what you put good jockeys on for.
“She’s come back in good order. There’s a few decisions to make where we go with her. I’ll have a good think about that.
“It was good to see her relax and be strong late. She’d led in her previous start, so it was good to see.”