After their one-two finish in the Listed Sandown Cup at the end of the Melbourne spring carnival, stablemates Azuro and Wall Of Fire are now set for their next staying assignment.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained pair will run in Wednesday’s Listed Bagot Handicap over 2800m, one of the feature races on the New Year’s Day program at Flemington which also features the Group Three Standish Handicap (1200m).
“Both are in good order,” Eustace said.
“They had a good end to their preparations last time at Sandown and we kept them in work and ticking over down at the beach.
“There’s some horses racing in good form in that race so by no means is it a penalty kick for either of them. It’s a competitive race but they are in the right race.”
Azuro has shown his liking for 3200m races, with the gelding winning three times over the distance during 2019 including his victory over Wall Of Fire in the Sandown Cup on November 16.
Eustace believes 2800m is long enough for Azuro to make his presence felt.
“We’ll certainly be positive as well,” Eustace said.
“He runs well over 2400 metres but seems to finish in the first three, four or five and isn’t quite able to get there where as 2800 metres you would think would be far enough.”
Azuro was the $5 second favourite on Tuesday behind in-form Secret Blaze who was runner-up in the Pakenham Cup (2500m) two starts ago before winning over 2500m at Flemington on December 21.
Wall Of Fire was $7, with Eustace leaning towards Azuro as the stable’s leading chance.
“He’s just got that little bit more consistency but arguably Wall Of Fire has got a little bit more class shorter than two miles,” Eustace said.
“So it would be fair to say there’s not a lot between them but Azuro is in very good form and he’s thoroughly consistent.”
They are both nominated for the Auckland Cup (3200m) in New Zealand on March 7, with the Adelaide Cup two days later also on the radar.
The Sydney, Brisbane and Queensland Cups are also options later in the season over 3200m.