Castlereagh Kid will have blinkers applied for the first time in his step up to stakes company on Saturday in the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield.
The Group 2 event will be the toughest test the gelding has faced in his short career, but all indications are that he’s up to the grade.
The promising three-year-old stayer has shown plenty of ability this time in, winning a Gosford maiden first-up by eight lengths before coming down to Melbourne to score a length-and-a-half victory over 1800m at Sandown Hillside last start.
Bred and raced by John Singleton’s Strawberry Hill Stud, Castlereagh Kid has all the credentials of a stakes-class galloper. The gelding by Snitzel has staying strength injected into him through his dam, Absolute Joy, a mare by champion sire Zabeel.
He’s trained by the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott partnership and is to be ridden on the weekend by champion hoop Damian Oliver.
Connections will be hoping the application of the blinkers will sharpen up the dour front-running galloper so that he can be successful over the 1800m once again.
“He was good. I worked him in some blinkers,” Oliver told Racing.com after working him on Tuesday morning.
“Just switched him on a bit more and happy with the way he’s come on since his last win.”
If all goes well for the galloper, Castlereagh Kid will eventually head back up to Sydney, where he is entered for the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) to be run at Randwick on April 2.
The wet tracks in Sydney at the moment are part of the reasoning behind bringing the galloper down to race in Melbourne.
“He’s a big boy who didn’t really want to get his feet too wet,” stable representative Rebecca Shanks told reporters after Castlereagh Kid’s last-start victory.
“[We’ll] let him get his confidence up down here.
“He’s just settled into Flemington so well.”
Shanks indicated that the 2400m of the Derby could be ideal for the Snitzel gelding.
“He does show that he’s going to be a nice horse once he steps out over a little further,” she said.
“He’s definitely tough.”
The Australian Derby is one of the very few Sydney Group 1 races that has eluded Gai Waterhouse in her illustrious training career to date.
The Group 1 classic is a race that her late father, T.J. Smith, won a record nine times, and there is no doubt Waterhouse would love to add her name to the winners list as well.
Castlereagh Kid is currently a $3.70 favourite on Sportsbet for the Autumn Classic and a $14 chance to give Waterhouse her first Australian Derby.