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Brad Widdup has decided against starting Akari against benchmark fillies Funstar and Probabeel in the Phar Lap Stakes

Trainer Brad Widdup has decided against starting Akari against benchmark fillies Funstar and Probabeel in the Phar Lap Stakes, instead favouring a Group Three assignment at Kembla Grange.

Widdup accepted with Akari for Saturday’s Group Two Phar Lap Stakes at Rosehill and the Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) on Friday but confirmed she would head to the latter.

“I think it’s just a safer option. I’ve got James McDonald on Friday and I’m happy with that from the draw (three). I think she gets her chance,” Widdup said.

Akari has finished midfield at two runs from a spell in the Light Fingers Stakes won by Flit and the Surround Stakes won narrowly by Probabeel.

Widdup was particularly pleased with her latest performance when she was checked at a vital stage before picking herself back up and closing strongly late.

That effort has given him confidence to test her over a mile at Kembla and if she runs to expectations, she is likely to face a rematch with Funstar and Probabeel in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill later this month.

The Chris Waller-trained Funstar was on Wednesday a $2 favourite to turn the tables on the New Zealand filly in the Phar Lap Stakes.

A long head separated the two in the Surround when Probabeel unleashed a withering finish from back in the field to arrive in the final bound.

However, the Jamie Richards-trained filly had a fitness edge following two lead up wins in New Zealand while Funstar was racing for the first time since the spring.

Probabeel remains solid at $2.60 and the pair have a stranglehold on Phar Lap Stakes betting with Spend the next market pick at $10.

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