The dream clash between Incentivise and Verry Elleegant in Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes at Flemington is highly likely. Champion trainer Chris Waller is leaning towards Verry Elleegant tackling the $1m race instead of the Hill Stakes in Sydney.
Part-owner Brae Sokolski said Waller wanted to give Verry Elleegant a Melbourne run before the Cox Plate.
“Everyone knows Chris is such a pattern trainer,” Sokolski told SEN Track.
“Typically he likes to get those horses down south for a run before their Grand Final.
“That’s why critically the Turnbull is the more likely outcome. It also gives Damian Lane a chance to sit on the mare in race conditions.
“Both of those factors are probably why he is leaning towards the Turnbull, but by the same token the Hill is now worth $1 million, it’s on her front doorstep and would have to be given due consideration as well.”
A final decision is expected to be made Wednesday morning. Verry Elleegant won last year’s Turnbull Stakes on good ground but has posted 11 of her 14 wins on soft or heavy ground.
TAB has Incentivise at $2.80 with Verry Elleegant at $3.30 with Sir Dragonet at $8 in ‘all-in’ betting. The Bureau Of Meteorology has predicted Mother Nature will have a huge say in the outcome of the Turnbull Stakes with up to 50mm of rain predicted in the days leading up to the race. The Flemington racecourse has amazing recovery powers but the track rating will be an unknown factor until Saturday’s meeting begins.
The TAB is also wary of top wet-tracker Colette, who won last year’s Australian Oaks and Golden Eagle on heavy ground. The Godolphin mare has firmed from $8 into $6.
Incentivise is unbeaten in three soft track runs but the best of those wins was in a Benchmark 70 race at Toowoomba in May. Incentivise had a long neck to spare over Sir Dragonet when the pair met over 1600m in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes on September 11.
Sir Dragonet will meet Incentivise 1.5kg worse at the weights under the set weights and penalties conditions of the Turnbull Stakes. But Sir Dragonet’s co-trainer David Eustace was keen to have another crack at Incentivise on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a really exciting race,” Eustace, who trains Sir Dragonet in partnership with Ciaron Maher, said.
“I don’t exactly know what Incentivise’s best conditions are, but ‘Dragon’ (Sir Dragonet) is going to find good conditions for him.
“Over 2000(m) on a big track, we haven’t been able to see that with him yet.
“It might bring out the best in him.”
Maher and Eustace have also entered triple Derby winner Explosive Jack and smart stayer Persan for the Turnbull Stakes. Eustace said the 2000m might be too short for Explosive Jack at this stage of his preparation while Persan is also entered for the Bart Cummings.
Persan won the Bart Cummings last year before he was the first Australian-trained finisher behind Twilight Payment in the Melbourne Cup. Persan is almost certain to get another Melbourne Cup start. The gelding was 25th in the latest Melbourne Cup order of entry after Tuesday’s second acceptances for the November 2 race.