Phoenix Thoroughbreds are preparing for an exciting weekend in Australia with five horses chasing Group One honours.
The Dubai-based owners have claimed Group prizes in three of the last four weeks and with leading chances over Friday and Saturday, the group will be more than hopeful of adding to that tally.
It all gets underway on Friday where both Loving Gaby and part-owned Exceedance line up in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley. For Loving Gaby, it’s a return to the scene of her greatest triumph and co-trainer Ciaron Maher believes that will be a significant advantage to the Manikato Stakes winner as she looks to turn the tables on Newmarket Handicap conquerer Bivouac.
“It’s one for one (against Bivouac),” Maher told Racing.com after the filly worked at the track under big-race jockey Craig Williams earlier this week. “He was very impressive last start and he obviously got the job done here. She has a tendency to lay-in a little bit so that really suits her here (around the bend) at The Valley. She really pings off the bend and Craig knows her well and he was happy.”
Williams has been on board for the three-year-old’s last four runs, including her Group One success and he echoed the thoughts of the filly’s trainer.
“I keep forgetting she’s a three-year-old filly, but she is just an imposing type with her physique and her performance – she is just galloping so well,” Williams said.
“She was really good. She loved the cut in the track, loves the Valley and her two runs this prep have been super, so hopefully, she can get to the winner’s stall this Friday night.
“I like her around the bend, and this is where she won her Group One Manikato. The ground was quite soft out there and she really motored.
“I loved how solid she was in her work. She’s actually come through the race really well as she’s actually quite aggressive and very similar to the Manikato.
“Last time, Bivouac was just awesome and we felt like we drew to disadvantage without taking anything away from him.”
Loving Gaby will break from barrier five with Exceedance on her outside in eight.
Meanwhile, Phoenix has two running in the Golden Slipper. Raced in partnership with Aquis both Prague and Farnan come into the race having tasted defeat just once in their careers and off the back of impressive Group class victories.
For the Phoenix Thoroughbreds bred Farnan, it was a front-running success Todman Stakes. Jockey Hugh Bowman may have to employ similar tactics again from barrier 14. That said, co-trainer Gai Waterhouse remains unconcerned by the wide draw feeling her colt has the tactical speed to get to the front. The first lady of Australian racing is chasing a record seventh win in the World’s most valuable two-year-old race and has compared Farnan to some of her juvenile champions of the past.
“With Pierro, Sebring, Vancouver and now Farnan, they all have very different personalities, but they have some things in common,” Waterhouse said.
“Each colt was very athletic, had a great aptitude for work and a lovely cruising speed and Farnan has these qualities in abundance.
“They were all dominant two-year-olds and that is what Farnan has done this season.
“He won in the spring, he had his trip away to the Gold Coast which was the makings of him, and he has won the two major lead-up races.”
Prague, on the other hand, left it late to qualify for the Slipper. He secured his place with an impressive performance to take out the Group Three Pago Pago Stakes last Saturday. Speaking shortly after that success co-trainer Ciraon Maher was confident the quick turn around would suit his colt.
Both horses are following in the hoofprints of the aforementioned Loving Gaby, who finished a close-up, but unlucky fourth in the Golden Slipper last year.
“It’s a great honour to have two runners in such a prestigious race as the Golden Slipper,” said Phoenix Thoroughbreds CEO Amer Abdulaziz. “Both look to have good chances and we’ll have our fingers crossed for the one-two!.
“We have a very exciting weekend ahead with five going for Group One’s and it’s a great testament to our growth and continuing ambitions in Australia. Thanks to all of our training teams for their hard work, especially in the current circumstances and getting these horses ready for these races.”
The quintet of runners is rounded out by part-owned Reloaded who will take his chance in the Rosehill Guineas. Chris Waller’s charge will have James McDonald in the plate again after the pair ran a superb fourth in the Randwick Guineas a fortnight ago.