Three-year-old Barthelona faces his biggest test yet when he puts his unbeaten record on the line at Caulfield.
The Mike Moroney-trained colt won on debut at Bendigo as a late-season two-year-old and had his first start of the new season at Sandown late last monthfor an impressive 2-3/4-length victory in a benchmark race against his own age over 1000m.
A younger half-brother to Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre, Barthelona chases his third-straight win in Saturday’s Alfred Foundation Plate (1100m) in which he will jump from the outside barrier in a big field.
“He’s going well and I thought he won really well at Sandown,” Moroney said.
“He’s got a tricky gate on Saturday, but he is a backmarker to a degree. Hopefully he can find a bit of cover and finish off strongly.”
Moroney is hoping Barthelona can keep stepping up this spring and if he does he will be given his chance against the best sprinting three-year-olds.
“All going well we’ll keep raising the bar and see where he ends up. It would be nice to end up in the (Group One) Coolmore Stud Stakes but he’s got to keep stepping up.”
Barthelona is at $5 for Saturday’s race with the Hawkes Racing-trained Legerity the $4.80 favourite.
Moroney said Barthelona’s two wins had come on big, roomy tracks and Caulfield presented a different challenge.
Another three-year-old from the Moroney team on trial for better races is the filly Sognani who will have blinkers on in the Lasallian Foundation Plate (1400m).
Sognani broke her maiden at the Geelong Synthetic track in her second start on August 30 over 1300m, winning by 1-1/4 lengths.
“(Jockey) Patrick Moloney thought she had a lot of improvement in her,” Moroney said.
“He said coming to the home corner he thought she was going to win by five (lengths) but said he couldn’t get her out of third gear when she hit the front.
“We’ve put the blinkers on just to sharpen her up.”