Native Soldier could break new ground for premier Victorian trainer Darren Weir if the two-year-old can make his mark in the Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and geldings at Caulfield.
Despite his dominance in Victoria in recent seasons, Weir is yet to have a starter in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes, or any other Group One race for two-year-olds.
Native Soldier impressed at Moonee Valley on January 26 when he rounded his rivals up to win by 2-3/4-lengths, taking his record to two wins from four starts.
Weir said the promising colt would need to win Saturday’s Prelude (1100m) to be a chance in the $1.5 million Blue Diamond (1200m) two weeks later, but he said he was one they had pinpointed for two-year-old racing.
“He’s got to win on Saturday, obviously, but he’s in great shape,” Weir said.
“He was good at Moonee Valley and the barrier draw means he’ll be middle of the pack and strong late, which is his best go.
“He’s always shown a bit. He’s always been one that we targeted as a two-year-old and he’s delivering well.”
The Weir-trained Limestone won the Blue Diamond Fillies Preview and finished a close second to subsequent Blue Diamond winner Catchy in the fillies Prelude last year, but she did not run in the Blue Diamond.
Native Soldier is the only juvenile Weir has still among Blue Diamond nominations.
“From my point of view, if it happens it happens. I’m not one to push a horse that doesn’t need to be pushed,” he said.
Native Soldier was at $5.50 on Friday for the Prelude behind Plague Stone ($3.80) and Ollivander ($4.80), while in the Blue Diamond Stakes market Native Soldier is at $18.
Brad Rawiller has ridden Native Soldier in his past two starts for wins at Geelong and Moonee Valley but Mark Zahra takes the ride on Saturday at 55.5kg which is below Rawiller’s current range.