Cranbourne Barrier trials
Multiple Group One winner Gailo Chop has taken another step towards his planned return in the Makybe Diva Stakes, stretching out well to win a Cranbourne barrier trial by a big margin on a heavy track.
Gailo Chop, owned by Terry Henderson's OTI Racing, has not raced since finishing second to Winx in the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April last year and is now trained by Matthew Williams at Warrnambool.
The nine-year-old gelding has had a steady build-up coming back from a tendon injury and his 12-length win over lesser performed opposition in Monday's hit-out was his third barrier trial win this preparation.
"I thought he stretched out really well late and when Mark (Zahra) kept asking him for a bit more he kept extending nicely," Williams said.
"Mark was really happy. His action was great. He had a bit of a blow when he came back in but his recovery five minutes after the trial was great and his tendon and soundness was terrific after the trial.
"He's pretty close now. The Makybe Diva Stakes is where he is kicking off."
The Group One Makybe Diva (1600m) is at Flemington on Saturday week and Williams said things were all coming together nicely at the right time.
"He's obviously going to take a run or two. If he was running in the first half in the Makybe and three or four lengths off them, you'd be rapt heading towards the Underwood Stakes second-up," the trainer said.
The Cox Plate is a target for Gailo Chop, with Williams to decide after the Underwood whether the gelding's preparation needs to include the Caulfield Stakes.
The promising Williams-trained import Harbour Views, winner of his three starts, also won a trial on Monday, narrowly beating Group One winner Mr Quickie over 1190m.
Williams said Harbour Views was a bit fresh early in the trial but still finished strongly.
"I couldn't be happier with him," Williams said.
"I don't know how good he is but I think it's extremely exciting."
Williams has pencilled in a couple of benchmark-78 races at Caulfield and Geelong for Harbour Views with the aim to target the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Cup (1600m) at Flemington on November 7 before the $500,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m).
The Everest favourite Santa Ana Lane has done everything asked of him in a Cranbourne barrier trial on heavy ground as he builds towards his spring return in the Group Two Shorts in Sydney.
Despite the wet track, trainer Anthony Freedman chose to trial Santa Ana Lane over 800m on Monday rather than wait to run him in a Sydney trial next week in the lead-up to The Shorts (1100m) first-up at Randwick on September 21.
Santa Ana Lane was held together by jockey Mark Zahra in Monday's hit-out but the star sprinter cruised home to finish third in the heat won by Evil Cry.
"He just kept him on the bit because the track was pretty heavy but Mark was really happy with his action and we're really happy with where he is at," assistant trainer Sam Freedman said.
"He has had a nice blow today so he will have another couple of good gallops before heading up to Sydney for The Shorts.
"So far everything is going smoothly.
"It wasn't as heavy today as it was when he trialled there two weeks ago. We elected to trial him today and it just meant we can keep him down here a little bit longer instead of sending him up to Sydney to trial.
"It just worked a little bit better because once he gets up to Sydney he will probably stay up there between The Shorts and The Everest."
Santa Ana Lane is scheduled to travel to Sydney a few days before The Shorts, with the $14 million The Everest (1200m) his main target on October 19 at Randwick.
The multiple Group One winner will also have a barrier trial in between The Shorts and The Everest to keep him ticking over.
A dominant winner of the Group One TJ Smith Stakes over the Randwick 1200m in April, Santa Ana Lane is the early $5 favourite for The Everest.
"Hopefully we'll just have him cherry ripe second-up but he will be ready to run a good race first-up as well," Freedman said.
Canterbury Barrier Trials
Chris Waller-trained mares Arcadia Queen and Enticing Star have put in pleasing trials at Canterbury as they continue preparations for The Everest.
Arcadia Queen closed late from last to finish third in her 900m-heat on Monday while Enticing Star won her trial over the same distance.
Both mares have been sent to Waller by leviathan Perth owner Bob Peters with the $14 million Everest on October 19 in mind.
Arcadia Queen is at $11 for The Everest with Enticing Star a $15 chance.
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