An abandoned winter carnival in Queensland has forced Melbourne trainer John Sadler to assess the potential of two emerging stablemates much closer to home than he had planned.
Sadler had last week’s Bendigo winner Big Night Out earmarked for a trip north along with promising three-year-old Beehunter.
But as the COVID-19 outbreak causes a disruption to the Australian thoroughbred calendar, Sadler will have to concentrate on Melbourne races to build the profile Big Night Out and Beehunter.
Big Night Out is aimed at the Group Three Victoria Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield on April 11 while Beehunter runs on Saturday in the Neds Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield.
Following Saturday’s race Beehunter returns to Caulfield to run in the VOBIS Sires’ Guineas (1600m) on April 18 after which the gelding will be spelled.
Beehunter will be lining up for his fifth start on Saturday, chasing a third win.
On debut he defeated Newmarket Handicap fifth-placegetter Banquo at Bendigo while at his last start Beehunter came from last to score over 1400m at Sandown.
“He ran super the other day,” Sadler said.
“Jamie Kah did say he’d had enough on the line, but whether that was because he had put in such a long sprint or whether he may not get a trip, I’m not sure.
“I’ve always thought a mile will not be a problem for him, so hopefully that’s the case.
“After the VOBIS race I don’t think there will be any point in going any further as he’ll have had the four runs and then we can see where we’re heading.
“I think he’s Group class so we’ll give him that opportunity in the spring.”
Sadler also has Sartorial Splendor running in the Selangor Turf Club Handicap (1100m) and expects the three-year-old to improve on his recent performances.
Sartorial Splendor had the thumps after a first-up last in the Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield in February then was a fading sixth behind Excess Funds over 1100m on March 14.
“He’s a head scratcher,” Sadler said.
“He’s drawn out a bit but I feel confident he’ll run well as long as the track is not too rain-affected.”