So Splendid returns to Caulfield after a narrow last-start defeat and trainer Chris Waller is banking on a softer barrier draw aiding the mare’s chances.
Waller has three runners entered for Sunday’s meeting including So Splendid who has drawn the inside barrier in the Maree Madden-Melder Handicap (1800m) for fillies and mares.
So Splendid jumped from the outside gate in a 1600m benchmark-70 race against her own sex at Caulfield on December 26 and worked forward after being caught wide.
The mare got the better of the leader inside the final 50m but was then grabbed to be beaten a nose and a short-half head by Addison and Winkelmann.
Addison is again among So Splendid’s rivals on Sunday and they share favouritism at $5 along with Shenandoah in the benchmark-78 race.
“She was very brave in defeat last start,” Waller said in his weekly online update.
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“She goes up 200 metres but she has got a much softer draw.”
Former French-trained Le Juge makes his second Australian appearance in the Matthew Davies Handicap (1600m) after finishing eighth of nine to in-form Widgee Turf over 1500m at Moonee Valley two weeks ago.
“He’s got some form in Europe over the mile so I wouldn’t say it’s too short for him,” Waller said.
“I think he’ll take a lot of benefit thanks to that first-up run.”
Lightly raced The Avenger has finished outside the placings in his first two starts this campaign in Sydney but gets an opportunity to bounce back in his first Melbourne start in the Alex Burrows Handicap (1400m).
Waller said barrier 11 was awkward but he was happy to have champion jockey Damien Oliver aboard The Avenger.
“His first two runs this preparation have been disappointing. I’m sure he can bounce back,” he said.