Trainer John Moloney sees the Australian Guineas as potentially the race of the autumn and wants to be a part of it.
The Moloney-trained Imperial Lad will attempt to book his place in the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on February 29 via a benchmark race at Wednesday’s Sandown meeting.
The winner of his past two starts, Imperial Lad runs in the MRC Membership Handicap (1400m) for which he is a $16 chance.
Debut winner Ellis Park from the Mark Kavanagh stable and the Mick Price and Mick Kent jr-trained Shush head the market at $4.20.
Saturday’s C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington will host a number of key Australian Guineas contenders but Moloney is happy to take the easier route.
“I think it will be one of the best Australian Guineas ever staged,” Moloney said.
“It looks the best race of the carnival the way I see it with the best horses around.
“He is still in it and there is still some intent that he will still go to the race, but he would have to win well at Sandown to follow that up.
“He’s in good shape. He’s performing well and has trained on since his first-up win at Geelong.
“He’s got a good gate (3), so we’ll get him through this and see where we go as we can always lower the bar if need be.”
Moloney will also be represented by $101 chance The Red Sea, a stayer resuming.
The Red Sea is being set for for the VRC St Leger (2800m) at Flemington in April and if successful he could be back at the track the following month for the Andrew Ramsden Stakes.
Victory in the Andrew Ramsden affords the winner a ballot exemption to this year’s Melbourne Cup.
“I’m preparing him to run out over staying trips and his best run other than winning his maiden was sixth in the Geelong Classic where he had a wide run and was still battling away at the finish,” Moloney said.
“He gives the feeling he could make a stayer of some type later on.”