Sir Charles Road will contest the Bentley St Leger Stakes (2600m) at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell
Saturday’s A$500,000 Bentley St Leger Stakes (2600m) at Randwick could have a major bearing on the 2019 spring campaign for well-performed New Zealand stayer Sir Charles Road.
A highly creditable seventh in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) last November, Sir Charles Road is currently 43rd in the order of entry for this year’s running of the Flemington showpiece.
Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott are favouring a ‘wait and see’ approach for the six-year-old’s programme.
“We’re just taking it one race at a time with him for now,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ll see what happens this weekend. If he runs well again in the St Leger, we might try to pursue that Melbourne Cup start over the next few weeks.
“But in the meantime, this race in Sydney is worth $500,000 and certainly looks like a nice race to have a crack at in its own right.”
Sir Charles Road’s last start was in the Gr.1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) at Randwick on October 5, showing the best form of his four-start campaign so far with a close third.
After being prominently positioned throughout the race, he looked vulnerable at the home turn. But rather than being swallowed up by the backmarkers, he fought strongly down the straight to be beaten by only half a length, taking his career earnings past the $1 million barrier.
“He ran pretty well last time and has done nicely since then,” O’Sullivan said. “Everything’s been going well with him. He’s just carried on doing the same thing, and we’re pretty happy with him heading into Saturday’s race.”
Australian bookmakers rate Sir Charles Road a $13 chance in a St Leger market headed by Metropolitan winner Come Play With Me at $6.
Meanwhile, the O’Sullivan-Scott team will also saddle a feature-race runner in New Zealand on Saturday, with Tweedledee tackling the Listed Staphanos Classic (1950m) at Rotorua.
The seven-year-old is backing up from a gallant fourth in his home-town Listed Matamata Cup (1600m) last weekend.
“He didn’t get many favours in the run in the Matamata Cup last Saturday, so we thought it was a really good performance that day,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s come through it well and deserves another crack at this sort of race.”