Bjorn Baker believes the experience of competing against older horses will hold War Eternal in good stead when he backs up against his own age group in the Spring Stakes at Newcastle.
The colt didn’t shirk his task when finishing just over three lengths from winner Zoushack over 1400m at Rosehill last Saturday and the trainer sees the drop back to three-year-old grade as significant.
“I thought his run last week when he covered ground was good and back to his own age group, he’ll be better suited,” Baker said.
A Randwick winner over 1400m in July, War Eternal found his rivals too sharp when unplaced first-up in the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) before his midfield effort last weekend.
While he rises to Group 3 company in Saturday’s 1600 metre race, the majority of his rivals are newcomers to the stakes-racing arena, including favourite Festival Dancer who is coming off a class two win at Goulburn.
“It’s a pretty even race so I’m glad to have him in it. He deserves a shot,” Baker said.
Rival trainer John O’Shea is likewise testing the waters with the lightly-raced Kokoro.
A son of former Japanese galloper and 2015 George Ryder Stakes winner Real Impact, Kokoro extended nicely over the final furlong to score over 1600m at Goulburn and the in-form O’Shea has opted to raise the bar, rather than head to an easier assignment at Kembla Grange.
“We really like him as a horse,” O’Shea said.
“It may be a bit soon for him, but he’ll give a good account of himself and it will be a good, seasoning run for him.”
Hugh Bowman rides Kokoro, who is $6.50 chance, while Josh Parr will partner War Eternal ($14).