By Ray Hickson
Two crucial gallops in the coming days will decide whether Japanese import Ittetsu runs in the Group 1 $700,000 The Galaxy (1100m), and adds an international flavour to Golden Slipper Day, or tackles the TJ Smith first-up.
The six-year-old has been based at the Canterbury Quarantine Centre for almost two weeks and is due to leave there on Tuesday and into new trainer Darren Weir’s care.
Champion jockey Craig Williams is expected to put him through his paces for the first time on Saturday morning.
Australian Bloodstock director Jamie Lovett said Ittetsu has taken the Weir stable and the owners a bit by surprise since he’s been in Sydney and are seriously considering The Galaxy for his local debut.
“We’d be 50-50, at one stage we discounted it but he’s done better than we anticipated and the riders are reporting he is pulling up clean in the wind,’’ Lovett said.
“I’d doubt he could win a Galaxy given the two weeks he missed but it might top him right off to go into a TJ.
“We’re thrilled with him. We’ll give him a hard hit out over the weekend and then Tuesday and then decide on the Galaxy.’’
Ittetsu has won six of his 26 starts and last raced in November last year where he produced a big sprint from near the tail to run third in a 1200m Group 3 race at Kyoto.
His reputation in Japan wasn’t for being a noted first-up performer but Lovett dismisses that theory and believes he’ll be capable of doing whatever Weir asks of him.
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“Brave Smash wasn’t a 1200m horse over there, I think Ittetsu’s good enough to run us a race in the Galaxy and it would be a good lead up,’’ Lovett said.
The entire didn’t do any serious work at Canterbury on Friday morning, due to Saturday’s more serious workout, and he walked three laps as well as a canter of another.
The Chris Waller pair of Japanese imports, Admire Winner and Satono Rasen, had leisurely 1000m gallops with the former clocking about 1:15 and the latter a slightly quicker 1:13. They also leave on Tuesday into their new stable.
It’s expected that Brave Smash, whose only Sydney start realised a third in The Everest, will be a late entry and join Ittetsu in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 7.
Meanwhile, Australian Bloodstock’s second Japanese import Danon Liberty will miss the Doncaster Mile after a mishap prior to leaving Japan.
Lovett said a cracked hoof cost Danon Liberty 10 days of work but is confident he’ll still make an appearance during the autumn carnival.
“They say he is in terrific order just the fact he twisted a plate and ripped a bit of his hoof but nothing significant and he’s back on track now,’’ he said.
“We’re hoping to get him into the All Aged and that’s the target for him at this stage.’’
Danon Liberty arrives at Canterbury on Tuesday along with Japanese Sydney Cup aspirant Prestwick. Irish galloper Success Days is due to land on Golden Slipper Day.