Aurie’s kick-off for Williams stayers
09 Aug 2012 | On figures alone, Macedon Lodge has reason to be excited about Midas Touch's chances in Saturday's $150,000 Group 3 Aurie's Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
The six-year-old old ran second in the 2010 Irish Derby, but at his only start during the Melbourne Festival of Racing earlier this year he got within five lengths of Black Caviar when fifth in the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m).
“You'd almost say, going into an Aurie's Star, a 4.8-length beating by Black Caviar was good form for it,” co-owner Nick Williams said.
“We know it's not with a horse like him, but on paper it looks good and it's amazing how deceptive things can be.”
Midas Touch will need much further than the Aurie's Star distance to show his best with the major spring Cups again the goal for the son of Galileo, who is trained by Robert Hickmott.
He will resume alongside stablemate and fellow Irish Derby runner-up Seville in the race Macedon Lodge last year used to successfully launch spring campaigns for a number of stayers.
Midas Touch beat home only disappointing stablemate Alandi in the 2011 Aurie's Star but went on to be Group 1 placed before contracting a virus, while Caulfield Cup runner-up Green Moon (eighth) and Macedon Lodge's only Melbourne Cup runner, At First Sight (10th), also resumed.
“We'd love to take the credit for using the Aurie's Star, but it's been something that Bart Cummings has done for 30 or 40 years with a lot of his spring horses,” Williams said.
“It's a good opportunity to start them somewhere a nice surface and give them a run down the straight. We use it for any of our horses that we think will gain some benefit from it.”
Macedon Lodge two representatives this year are two of its major spring contenders. Midas Touch was one of the Melbourne Cup favourites last year before falling ill, while Seville had two starts in Australia earlier this year, the most recent a fourth to Linton in the Group 3 R.A. Lee Stakes.
“There's a hell of a long way to go with these horses, but they're in good order and all the reports are good from the trackriders and the stable staff, so we've got fingers crossed that they can put their best foot forward later in the spring,” he said.
“This is a good opportunity to get them out of the barriers and onto a nice surface. I wouldn't think that either of them are sharp enough to win the race, but we look forward to them hopefully be running on towards the end.”
Midas Touch, the 60kg topweight who will be ridden by Craig Williams, will start from barrier one with Seville (58lg, Nick Hall) to jump from gate nine.
They are $41 and $61 chances respectively in TAB Sportsbet's market, which is dominated by the Peter Moody-trained Golden Archer ($2.20).
Midas Touch and Seville are Macedon Lodge's only runners in Saturday's feature event, but it has Cups hopefuls engaged in support events.
Last year's Bendigo Cup winner Tanby and the emerging stayer Excluded will both run in the $100,000 Dean Millson and Brenda Nugent Handicap (1410m).
“Tanby is a real improver, he did as much as he could do last spring and he had a light autumn but I think he will have a really good spring,” Williams said.
“It'll be too short for him, but he's going well and Excluded, he's a stayer on the up and we'd like to think that he could be doing this year what Tanby did last year – running well in a Geelong Cup or a Bendigo Cup, or something like that.”
Macedon Lodge also has four-year-old Collar in the $80,000 John Cowl & Paul Grace Handicap (1710m). The son of O'Reilly was impressive first-up, when sixth from a wide barrier, and has already been well supported with TAB Sportsbet, into $5.50 after $10 was initially bet.
“He's going really well Collar and I'd be surprised if he wasn't in the finish,” Williams said. “He was terrific (first up), it was impossible drawn where he was at Caulfield over 1400, but he's drawn well and we should be able to put him in a nice spot, so I reckon he'll be right in it.”