Mick Price is aware there are more suitable immediate options for Ayrton than this Saturday’s CF Orr Stakes, but he thinks it is the right Group 1 race to have a crack at.
Waiting for him will be star miler Mr Brightside, but the $750,000 weight-for-age Group 1 event is run at Ayrton’s favourite circuit – the Caulfield 1400 metres.
The six-year-old’s four most recent wins have been over that course, including a last-start win in the Listed Barton Stakes on January 26, which convinced Price to have a throw at the stumps.
“It’s the perfect track, perfect trip, Jamie Kah on, so it is his best opportunity (to win a Group 1),” Price said.
“He should be in a 1400m Listed race a week after but, who cares? We want to have a go at a Group 1.
“He’s doing a good job in the correct grade and now we’re going to a Group 1 weight-for-age so he does have to run a personal best to win.”
Ayrton took his record to eight wins from 21 starts in the Barton Stakes, which was his first start since finishing down the track in the Group 3 Gold Rush (1400m) in Perth on December 16.
The son of Iffraaj was unlucky in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and Group 2 The Damien Oliver (1400m) at Flemington the two starts before that, which followed a first-up win in the Listed Weekend Hussler Stakes.
“I had a better opinion on him with his potential before he got sick to now and, OK, we went to Perth, which didn’t work, but apart from that his form’s been pretty nice,” Price said.
“He’s been placed correctly to now, but I just thought he’s got enough credit in the bank to have a go at a Group 1.”
Aims are also high with another horse Price and Kent train for Roll The Dice, the undefeated Otago, who continues his path towards the Group 1 Australian Guineas with a trial win at Cranbourne on Monday morning.
The 800m workout was his first public appearance since victory at Flemington on January 13 and kept the Ocean Park gelding up to the mark ahead of the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 17.
“We gave him a little break in the paddock and this was a tick over trial for him and then we use the C S Hayes to get him into the mile and then hopefully he’s still got enough energy about him as a young horse to do the job.”