Warrnambool trainer Matthew Williams is planning to give Cox Plate hopeful Harbour Views one more start this winter in a bid to improve his rating ahead of a spring campaign.
Harbour Views raced to an impressive win over 2040m at The Valley on Saturday in a test of his spring credentials.
Williams is targeting the Group Two Feehan Stakes (1600m) on September 5 at The Valley to try to gain the import a Cox Plate ballot exemption should he win.
After Saturday’s 2-1/4-length win, Harbour Views’ rating has risen from 88 to 94, which Williams believes should be high enough to get him into the Feehan.
But he does not want to take any chances of being balloted out which would muck up his spring plans, so he intends to run the five-year-old again on Saturday week at Caulfield.
“Last year he would have got a run in the Feehan but you just don’t know,” Williams said.
“Because we’ve got a bit of time we’re going to go to Caulfield on Saturday week in a 2000-metre open handicap with a view of getting his rating up a bit more … then he’d have 10 weeks and go straight into the Feehan over 1600 metres.”
Williams said Harbour Views had pulled up in terrific order.
“He went to the beach on Sunday morning and his joints and that are terrific,” he said.
“He’s probably the soundest he’s ever been at the moment.”
Harbour Views has won six of his nine starts, with Saturday’s success his first try beyond 1600m and his first win in open company.
He had finished third in his first two starts this campaign in a 1400m handicap at Sandown on heavy ground and in the Group Three RA Lee Stakes (1600m) in Adelaide.
“We knew he had genuine excuses his first two starts this campaign but at the end of the day, Saturday was a bit of a D-Day,” Williams said.
“We knew he was going there fit and well and everything was right. To see him come out and do it gives you that bit of confidence he is on track and is the horse we think he is.”