Three-year-olds ready to step up at Flemington

Mike Hedge

The proven ability of Gimcrack Stakes winner Jorda and the promise shown by fellow three-year-olds Esperance and Toga Picta make for some intriguing Spring previews for Godolphin at Flemington on Saturday.

Each of the three has a different agenda over the coming months, and each has the same ambition in races that will help shape their future.

For Jorda (Kerrin McEvoy) the Listed Cap D’Antibes Stakes offers the chance to make amends for a luckless first-up run in what will be her first experience of the Flemington straight course.

“She brings that strong San Domenico Stakes form to this race which I think is the right sort of recipe to give herself a really strong winning chance,” said trainer James Cummings.

“It’s her first look up the straight at Flemington and that can be daunting, so we’re treading carefully from that perspective. But I certainly think she’s got a very, very strong chance.”

The potential shown by Esperance (Kerrin McEvoy) in wins at his first two starts will be put to the test when he makes a considerable leap in class to the G2 Danehill Stakes, another race in which the vagaries of the straight track come into play.

“Esperance is loaded with ability, but it’s all a bit of a game for him,” Cummings said.

"He’s got a beautiful big galloping action and quite an impressive turn of foot.” Esperance is a G1 Caulfield Guineas prospect, but Cummings is also contemplating keeping him to sprint trips or putting him aside until next autumn after Saturday.

“I’d say Saturday is going to be quite a stern test for him, but he will certainly be looming up as a chance at a critical stage."

“If he’s up to it we’ll know from his performance on Saturday and plan towards the appropriate target,” he said.

Cummings also has the Caulfield Guineas in mind for Toga Picta (Kerrin McEvoy) who he said has thrived since joining the Melbourne stable this week.

“I gave him a strong lung-burner in a barrier trial at Warwick Farm last Friday that showed us he’s up to the mark,” he said.

“He’ll meet the Caulfield Guineas favourite Royal Symphony in Saturday’s race, but I still expect him to be running very strongly.”