Consensus will be attempting to put a ray of sunshine into an emotional week for the family of popular trainer Trevor McKee when she chases a Group One win at Randwick on Saturday.
McKee, 81, passed away last Friday and on Thursday, after attending a memorial service at Ellerslie racecourse (the burial place of their world-class mare Sunline), son Stephen will be packing his bag bound for Sydney on Friday in the hope of a big run from Consensus in the Group 1 A$1 million Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m).
“Unfortunately she’s got the outside draw (19), which is going to make it hard for her, but you can’t worry about that now,” Stephen McKee said.
“She’s going to get a better track than last weekend and that’ll help.”
McKee said the Consensus camp did consider a tilt at the Group 1 A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Saturday, but that would have meant another clash with the champion Winx.
“She raced in it last year and ran quite well (for sixth), but she’d be running for second or third at best with Winx in it again,” McKee said.
“At the end of the day it’s best to have a chance of winning a race than running a placing.
“This (the Coolmore Legacy Stakes) is the race we decided on after Moonee Valley and she has travelled up well from Melbourne and settled in well. She’s in the same barn she was when she was there last year.”
Consensus has had Group One success in Ellerslie’s 2016 Zabeel Classic (2000m) and, though she has continued to boost her value with more wins, a Group One victory in Australia would escalate her broodmare worth immensely.
The daughter of Postponed has won 11 of her 54 starts and is closing in on $1 million in prizemoney and there is no doubt she is in prime form to take on a high-class field in Saturday’s Coolmore Legacy Stakes.
She has won three of her last four starts and, after her wins in the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m) and the Group 3 Taranaki Cup (1800m), she stepped back up to Group 1 level and finished a gallant third to Melody Belle in the Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki.
Taken to Melbourne, she continued her top form with a next-up strong win in a most appropriate race for the McKee family, the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m), at Moonee Valley last month.
Ex-Kiwi hoop Michael Walker was aboard for the Melbourne triumph and he has been given the task of allowing Consensus her best chance from the outside draw on Saturday.
Consensus went on to Queensland for the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) after last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes run and finished eighth before heading to the spelling paddock. Queensland is again an option, provided she shapes up on Saturday and comes through the race satisfactorily.
“She is one run short of where she was when she went to Brisbane last year,” McKee said. “And last year she had a hard run on a heavy track in the Ranvet before that.
“The Hollindale has gone up to A$500,000 this year and being 1800m it looks a good race for her after Saturday.”
McKee will be staying on in Sydney to saddle up another stable runner, Maktoum, at Warwick Farm next Wednesday.
Maktoum, a four-year-old son of Makfi, has been freshened since he won two starts ago over 1500m at Ellerslie then finished third over the same course and distance on Boxing Day.
“He’ll run on Wednesday in a Benchmark 74 1400m worth A$50,000 and if he goes well there’s a race worth A$130,000 at Randwick 10 days later for him,” McKee said.
McKee’s local representatives over the weekend include last-start winner Lucky Sweep and Passing Shot, who followed up a win at Hastings with a fourth to Volks Lightning in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham.
“Passing Shot is in at both Hastings on Saturday and Te Rapa on Sunday and it will depend on the weather where he goes,” McKee said.