The $600,000 first prize for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes on his favoured track is too much of an enticement for Shane Nichols to ignore with Streets Of Avalon.
Nichols mapped out a four-run early spring campaign for Streets Of Avalon before the gelding was to be freshened. But Saturday’s 1400m Group 1 handicap at Caulfield now looms as the gelding has thrived since his fifth in the Group 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 4.
Streets Of Avalon is to get his chance in the Sir Rupert Clarke, picture Racing Photos
Nichols had the Bletchingly Stakes (second), the PB Lawrence Stakes (eighth), Memsie Stakes (seventh) and Feehan Stakes set in stone for Street Of Avalon, and felt the handicap conditions of the Sir Rupert Clarke would be against the gelding. But when he sat down to look at options — the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m), the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) and the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) — he felt Saturday’s race was not such a bad one after all.
“He came out of the Feehan in such good order, his coat is glowing, and he looks as good as he has all prep,” Nichols said.
“Our alternative to Saturday was the Sandown Stakes over 1500 metres, but I felt when they’re putting up $1 million over seven furlongs, we’re better going to Caulfield.
“It will be difficult for him because of the pressure from a lot of the low weighted horses, but I wouldn’t be going there if I wasn’t pumped with how well he is in himself. I’m content enough that he is well enough to run top four or five.”
With Dean Yendall booked to ride Amish Boy, Damien Oliver will take the ride on Saturday.
A total of 20 horses have been nominated for Saturday’s race with last year’s victor Behemoth the topweight with 59kg. Streets Of Avalon has third topweight with 56kg behind Probabeel (57kg), while Beau Rossa, second to Behemoth in the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on August 28, received 55kg.
“Personally, I think Beau Rossa is going to be very, very hard to beat,” Nichols said.