Warrnambool trainer Matthew Williams has big spring plans for Harbour Views but first the lightly raced import needs to get his rating up to warrant those lofty targets.
Williams had planned to run Harbour Views first-up from a spell on his home track at Warrnambool next week.
But when the 1400m handicap he had earmarked during the annual three-day carnival was scrapped on a reduced two-day program because of the coronavirus pandemic, those plans changed.
Instead Williams turned his attention to Saturday’s 1400m open handicap at Sandown for Harbour Views’ return.
Harbour Views is 19th in the ballot with a field limit of 16 plus four emergencies but Williams is hopeful the gelding will get a start and begin his campaign in encouraging fashion.
A winner of five of his six starts working through the grades, Harbour Views has not started since November and is yet to race in an open handicap.
He was scratched from the Ballarat Cup in November with inflammation in his fetlocks and given a nice break.
Williams is keen to boost Harbour Views’ rating this campaign to ease pressure gaining starts in some spring races.
Along with the Sandown race Williams has pencilled in the Group Three RA Lee Stakes (1600m) in Adelaide and hopes to get Harbour Views out to 2000m which he believes he will relish.
Longer term, the Group Two Feehan Stakes (1600m) in spring is on the radar.
“We need to try to get his rating up another 10 points and give us a bit of confidence that he would get into a race like the Feehan Stakes,” Williams said.
“We’re a bit keen to maybe head that way with him and look at a possible automatic entry into a Cox Plate.
“I think he’s got Group ability but he does have some soundness issues that go with him. They have got to be managed as well.”
Williams said he was really happy how Harbour Views was coming up this preparation.
“I wouldn’t say he would go to the races quite as forward as he has in previous preps for his first-up run, there’s certainly a fair bit still left in the tank, but he will present in great order and he’ll present a stronger, more furnished horse,” he said.
“I think that will help him through the preparation, just to hold that condition on him.
“He will run well on Saturday. He’s going too good at home not to but he is kicking off in an open handicap.”