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Early departure to Australia for Xtravagant
25 Jul 2016

Cox Plate contender Xtravagant is booked on a flight to Melbourne on Wednesday week.

“He’ll be staying at Flemington and he will be trial at Caulfield on August 9 and after that we will decide where he will kick off,” said Stephen Autridge, who trains the rising four-year-old with Jamie Richards.

A return to Caulfield on August 27 for the Gr. 3 Heath Stakes over 1100 metres, a race won last year by the former New Zealand-trained mare Bounding, is one option to start Xtravagant’s spring preparation.

“He’s come back really well after a break and all our riders who have been on him are saying he’s much stronger now,” Autridge said.

“The main objectives after a run or two will be the Group Ones at the carnival and a crack at the Cox Plate.”

Xtravagant has enjoyed a memorable season highlighted by his runaway victory in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and his eight-length drubbing of his older rivals in the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint.

The son of Pentire, who also won the Gr. 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes, features strongly in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards as a finalist in the champion three-year-old and champion sprint divisions.

Xtravagant’s stablemate Shillelagh has also been pencilled in for a Melbourne campaign.

“We’re going to send her over a week later to give the colt time to settle in before she turns up,” Autridge said.

Shillelagh has won four of her six starts for prominent Hunterville breeder-owners Christopher and Susanna Grace, the last of them at Ruakaka last month.

“She’ll have a couple of Saturday races to start with and hopefully she will be going well enough come carnival time for the fillies and mares’ races,” Autridge said.

The Savabeel four-year-old’s family is well known in Australia as she is a sister to the Gr. 2 Brisbane Cup winner and the Gr. 1 Caulfield Cup placegetter Tullamore.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant