Irish trainer and jockey combination Eddie Lynam and Wayne Lordan will be hoping the international domination of Melbourne's spring carnival continues at Flemington on Saturday when their star sprinter Slade Power contests the A$1 million G1 Darley Classic.
The 1200 metres Group 1 sprint, is one of seven races being simulcast on Saturday, and the highlight of the last of the four days of Melbourne Cup week at Flemington.
So far, the visitors have claimed the Melbourne spring's three biggest prizes with Admire Rakti taking the G1 Caulfield Cup; Adelaide the G1 Cox Plate and Protectionist the G1 Melbourne Cup.
And now Slade Power might continue the trend. The signs are good after Lordan got a feel of the Flemington straight and a bonus victory at Flemington on Tuesday on 30/1 chance Reparations in the Listed MSS Security Sprint.
Slade Power, 10th in last year's G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint, but unbeaten since with victories in the G3 Greenlands Stakes, G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes and G1 July Cup, has settled in well at the Werribee quarantine centre and is primed for Saturday's race.
“I really appreciated the opportunity to get the ride on Tuesday and it’s great to get the win. Now we can look forward to Saturday,” Lordan said.
Slade Power too has had a look at the Flemington straight track - working there last week. He was fractious in the barriers, which can be an issue with the horse, but he travelled comfortably down the straight course - running 800m in 47.49s and quickening well over the concluding stages to run his final 400m in 23.06s.
Lynam's sprinter looks to be in great shape but he will face stiff opposition from Australia's emerging sprint star Chautauqua along with Australian Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee and the evergreen Buffering who is also entered for Hong Kong Sprint in December.
Lankan Rupee returned to winning form in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes on 24 October and there's a sense of deja vu with him this week. Chad Schofield has picked up the ride on Lankan Rupee after regular rider Craig Newitt was suspended at Mornington on Sunday. Schofield won the G1 Newmarket Handicap on the horse in the autumn when Newitt elected to ride the Mick Price-trained stablemate Samaready.
The Hawkes' family trained Chautauqua has emerged from obscurity to the tag of potential star with emphatic wins over Saturday's course and distance in the G3 Bobbie Lewis Handicap and G2 Gilgai Stakes - by 2.5 and 4 lengths respectively. “It's a step up again this week but he's done everything right,” said co-trainer Michael Hawkes.
Buffering, the 2013 Darley Classic winner and runner-up to Black Caviar in the 2011 edition, is expected to be ready to race on Saturday despite pulling up with some soreness after finishing seventh - but only 0.6 lengths back - in the G1 Manikato Stakes. “All being well, Hong Kong is still on the rader,” trainer Robert Heathcote said.