An unchanged Victorian spring program will force leading stable Lindsay Park to revise carnival plans for two stars due to return from injury.
Tom Dabernig, who with Ben Hayes takes over the reins at Lindsay Park after David Hayes’ departure to Hong Kong, had tentatively worked out a spring program for Fifty Stars and Furrion, based on the Caulfield Cup being run after the Melbourne Cup.
Fifty Stars, who won the Australian Cup in March, missed the remainder of the autumn with a knee issue while Furrion has not been seen since winning the 2019 Warrnambool Cup following a tendon injury.
Dabernig was not opposed to an extended spring as it may have allowed Fifty Stars to contest the Caulfield Cup in late November.
But with the Caulfield Cup set to run on October 17, Fifty Stars is now likely to have the Mackinnon Stakes during Melbourne Cup week at Flemington as his spring target.
With the carnival remaining as is, at least for this year, Dabernig feels there is an opportunity for racing administrators to look at shortening the distance of the Victoria Derby and VRC Oaks from 2500m to 2000m.
“With the tradition of it all, I don’t know if they ever will,” Dabernig said.
“To me it makes a lot of sense, especially from a trainers point of view.
“I think it would be a much more marketable race for a stallion’s perspective for breeding, but it would also be a lot easier on the animal.”
Dabernig said he had no concerns with the traditional Derby distance later in the season, but said the 2500m trip at Flemington so early was too hard on young horses.
He said horses like So Si Bon and Extra Zero, who both ran in the Derby before racing on into their later years, were in the minority.
“I haven’t done the stats on it, but I just know from our horses over the years that we’ve pushed on to the Derby, the injury rate is quite high and the comeback rate from it is not the best,” he said.