Dabernig Keen on sprinter’s chances

A breathtaking performance from Voodoo Lad denied Keen Array a first-up win at Moonee Valley but the sprinter’s co-trainer Tom Dabernig is confident about his chances in the Testa Rossa Stakes at Caulfield.

Keen Array’s spring return was delayed for two weeks by a bout of colic before he was due to resume in the Listed Carlyon Stakes.

He instead returned in a Listed race on September 3 to beat all bar Voodoo Lad who stormed down the outside to win.

“That was a remarkable win from Voodoo Lad,” Dabernig said.

“But if you take the winner out of it, our horse looked like being back to his best and he’s given us that impression this whole preparation coming into his first-up run, apart from that hiccup where he got colic.

“He seems great.”

Keen Array is the $4.40 favourite for Saturday’s Listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m) with Stradbroke Handicap placegetter The Virginian at $4.60 .

Keen Array won last year’s Blue Sapphire Stakes over the course and distance before he was placed in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.

Dabernig is not worried about the likelihood of a rain-affected track.


“He’s only been on a soft track once and that was during Cup week last year when he ran second in a Group One,” Dabernig said.

“So a soft track for mine is not a concern (for Saturday).

“I think with natural improvement from his first-up run, I’m pretty keen on him but I’m probably biased towards him. I think he’s going to be hard to beat.”

Dabernig said he and co-trainers David and Ben Hayes believed Keen Array could be at his best over 1400m, so a step up in distance is an option this campaign.

The training partnership has a big team for the meeting including Almoonqith and Gabella in the Naturalism Stakes and Miss Promiscuity in the How Now Stakes.

He’s Our Rokkii will be out to press his claims for the Group One Toorak Handicap in the Sheen Group Handicap (1400m) but Dabernig said stablemate Gracious Prospect would be scratched.

Dabernig believes He’s Our Rokkii, a winner over 1400m first-up, has gone to another level this campaign.

“I think he’s going really well,” he said.

“We decided to keep him at 1400 metres second-up and he’s a horse that’s heading towards the Toorak hopefully.”

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