Three-year-old Bernabeu has pleased John O’Shea with a win in a Flemington jump-out but the trainer is yet to decide whether the gelding will run in the Group One Newmarket Handicap.
Bernabeu holds a nomination for a Listed race against his own age over 1100m as well as the Newmarket (1200m) at Saturday’s Flemington meeting.
He is coming off a disappointing Lightning Stakes where he failed to beat a runner home, but the son of Fastnet Rock defeated Newmarket Handicap runners Va Pensiero and Shamexpress in Tuesday’s jump-out with all three given a relatively easy time.
O’Shea said he would consult connections and monitor how the gelding pulled up before making a final decision.
“It’s very unfortunate coming out of a negative like we had in the Lightning Stakes to try and come back and run well in a Newmarket, particularly a very strong version of the Newmarket,” O’Shea said.
“But there’s plenty of options for him. He’s a gelding so there’s a number of options to run down the straight in Group Ones later on in life.”
O’Shea said it was good to see Bernabeu perform well in Tuesday’s hit-out where he led and clocked 47.41sec for the 800m.
The trainer says Bernabeu needs dry ground to produce his best and believes rain which began in the half hour before the Lightning and continued during the race contributed to his failure.
Bernabeu won a straight-track sprint against his own age at Flemington last spring.
“We just needed to see him back in public and get a bit of confidence back for everyone, including the horse, and more importantly go into a race just having a nice steady trial without burning too much energy,” O’Shea said.