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
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
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