Rain to suit Ashford Street

Warrnambool trainer Tom Dabernig is banking on a return to Caulfield and a rain-affected track turning around the fortunes of Ashford Street. The sprinter has had three starts since joining Dabernig's yard, two at Caulfield, for a win and a second, and an unplaced finish at Flemington. 

The Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) on Saturday has been in the back of Dabernig's mind since the gelding joined his stable and the trainer said Ashford Street appeared in good order. 

"It's looking a pretty good option on paper," Dabernig said. "It's a race we circled before the beginning of this prep. We looked at it as a possible target and everything to date has gone well. 

"His two Caulfield runs were excellent and then at Flemington he was unlucky … he's probably more a Caulfield horse than a Flemington horse anyway." 

Dabernig explained Ashford Street drew an inside barrier at Flemington and had to come to the extreme outside fence to gain some clear air, but by that stage the field had got away from him. "The run was probably better than the finishing place looked," the trainer said. 

Ashford Street has recorded five wins in the Soft range; picture Racing Photos

With the rain that had fallen early in the week and the Caulfield track posted in the soft range at acceptance time on Wednesday, it was music to the ears of Dabernig. 

"If this bit of rain that is about continues, it will suit him," Dabernig said. "He likes those softer conditions and his three runs for us have all been on good tracks. 

"The purpose of having him in through winter was to try and take advantage of some softer tracks, so hopefully they're conditions that will suit him. A little bit of sting out would be ideal, as will the small field." 

Melbourne's leading rider for the 2023-24 season, Damian Lane, has been booked for the ride, replacing Teo Nugent. Dabernig said Nugent did nothing wrong on Ashford Street at Flemington after apprentice Jaylah Kennedy partnered the gelding in his two runs at Caulfield. 

"Damian [Lane] said he was keen to ride the horse, so we thought we'd be crazy not to book him," Dabernig explained. 

Ashford Street drew ideally in barrier three with Group 1 Oakleigh Plate placegetter Mornington Glory drawn next to him in barrier four in the eight-horse field.