By Ray Hickson
Trainer Anthony Freedman’s long term hope for high class Japanese import Ambitious is to be at his top for a possible clash with Winx in the Cox Plate this spring.
So Saturday’s Group 1 $1.5m KIA Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens is an important stepping stone for the six-year-old.
Ambitious, who has a win over retired Japanese champion Kitasan Black among his credentials, made his local debut in the Australian Cup earlier this month and Freedman was more than satisfied from a first-up perspective but is looking for a big improvement come Saturday.
“Potentially he could be a Cox Plate horse, a fast run 2000m race on firm ground is what his best form says he is,’’ Freedman said.
“His form would suggest he is very highly rated. I do think he is probably still acclimatising and that probably won’t be complete until the spring.
“We are learning about the horse, if we can get a result along the way it will be a bonus. We’ll get through Saturday and see how we are going after that.’’
Ambitious finished four lengths behind Australian Cup winner Harlem at Flemington (replay below) and Freedman said the run was more than satisfactory under the circumstances.
Gailo Chop was runner-up in that race and could well back up from his Ranvet Stakes win last Saturday providing the chance for Freedman to test the level of improvement Ambitious makes out of his first run since June.
HARLEM SHAKES EM OFF!
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) March 10, 2018
“We were happy enough, he didn’t draw well that day and it forced our hand having to go back. The track was pretty biased so I thought his run was okay,’’ he said.
“He was stopped a bit in the run home and he probably finishes a little closer without that so we were generally pretty happy.’’
TAB’s Tancred Stakes futures market had Ambitious at $13 on Monday behind Gailo Chop ($2.50) and 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin ($3.50).
Ambitious has only raced beyond 2000m on one occasion, at Group 1 level in Japan, and was safely held but Freedman believes 2400m, and perhaps beyond, may not trouble him.
“His form has been at 2000m in Japan but they do run them very hard there so we’re banking on it being a slower run race but he gives the indication he will be fine,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Freedman confirmed Surround Stakes winner Shoals is back in Melbourne and won’t be seen again during the Sydney autumn.
The filly is being considered for a trip to Royal Ascot and Freedman said she’ll have one start in Adelaide before a decision is made.
“We’re probably going to the Sangster Stakes (on May 5) and then we will work out after that whether we go on to the UK,’’ he said.
“If she won the Sangster we would give it a lot of thought.’’