The Quarterback on track for Gilgai return

The Quarterback has beaten two of the country’s best horses in a Newmarket Handicap and his next challenge is to match it with the top sprinters at weight-for-age.

Trainer Robbie Griffiths is hopeful the gelding can prove his credentials this spring during a three-run preparation in Melbourne.

The Quarterback gave Griffiths his first Group One win when he beat Black Heart Bart and Chautauqua to win the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in March.

While The Quarterback was beaten in his next three autumn starts, Chautauqua went on to win the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes and the Chairman’s Sprint Prize in Hong Kong while Black Heart Bart has also won two Group One races and been runner-up in another three.

“We’ve just got to prove that we can hold those form lines with them at weight-for-age,” Griffiths said.

“That’s the thing. Yes, we beat them on a handicap scale and whether we can do the same at weight-for-age is what we’ve got to prove this preparation.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he has come on, but raceday is going to give us the real answers.”

The Quarterback had a barrier trial at Cranbourne on Friday and his performance in the 800m hit-out has given Griffiths encouragement heading towards the sprinter’s return in the Gilgai Stakes at Flemington on October 2.

“I thought it was as good as he’s ever trialled,” Griffiths said.

“He ran fourth on the bridle in quick time. (The winner) General Jackson ran pretty fast and I thought The Quarterback ran fantastic.

“By the time he has another trial on Monday week and some more training, he should be cherry ripe for the Gilgai.

“I want him to be pretty ready first-up because we’re only having three runs, so I want him to hit form straight up.”

After the Group Two Gilgai at Flemington over the same 1200m straight course as the Newmarket, The Quarterback is scheduled to contest two weight-for-age Group One sprints, the Manikato Stakes and Darley Classic, also targets for Chautauqua.

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