Smart Dart has earned his stripes for a tilt at a stakes race at Caulfield.
The six-year-old has yet to race against black type company but gets the opportunity in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Monday.
Smart Dart deserves that chance, especially in an off-season race, having won four of his past six starts.
The Cindy Alderson-trained gelding has graduated from winning a benchmark 70 class race on the synthetic surface at Pakenham in July to winning a $100,000 race at Saturday level on the turf over 1200m at the same track on December 3.
And while his form is holding, Alderson thinks the time is right to test him in town, and for good prize money.
“A Listed race at this time of year, it’s worth having a crack at to see where he fits,” Alderson said.
“He’s rated 88 so some of the options are running out a bit for him.
“He’s probably run out of options where he can run in races where we can claim on him for a while.”
Alderson admits it’s not going to be an easy test for Smart Dart on Monday but the trainer also knows she can’t have the gelding going into the race in better order.
And Alderson thinks Smart Dart has gained confidence from his recent form.
“Obviously it’s going to be harder for him but it’s not that much different from what he has been racing against,” Alderson said.
“There’s a few in there that go a bit better but this horse is in great order since he won the other day.
“He’s really come on and maybe he knows he’s a winner.
He’s very bright and happy in himself and hopefully he gets the right run on Monday.”
With Ben Thompson on the sidelines through suspension, fellow apprentice Michael Dee takes the ride in the non-claiming race.
Smart Dart is rated an $11 chance with the Mick Price-trained Duke Of Brunswick the $3.50 favourite ahead of Sir Bacchus at $4.80.