As a host of quality three-year-olds have been making their marks this spring, one of last season’s top juveniles has been waiting in the wings building towards his own racetrack return.
On Wednesday, Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper placegetter Flying Artie gets his first chance to shine as a three-year-old in the $350,000 Blue Sapphire Stakes at Caulfield.
After running second on debut in the Maribyrnong Plate last spring, Flying Artie returned in the autumn to win the Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and geldings before finishing second to stablemate Extreme Choice in the $1 million Group One Blue Diamond.
He was also placed in the Golden Slipper before going for a four-month break after developing sesamoiditis.
Flying Artie is the $2.20 favourite in Wednesday’s Blue Sapphire (1200m) which is the colt’s lead in to the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington where he will meet a star-studded field including Extreme Choice.
“The horse is going great,” trainer Mick Price said.
“Flying Artie trialled behind Lankan Rupee and Azkadellia last Tuesday, finishing third, and I’m really happy with the horse’s work.”
When Price brought him back in he originally thought he might go to the Coolmore without a lead-up run but is happy to get him to the Blue Sapphire with another two weeks to the Coolmore.
“He’s a very good colt. He’ll go very close to winning,” Price said.
“The last 100 metres of raceday pressure, fitness-wise, that’s the query.
“I haven’t had any extra time with him but the time we’ve had is good.
“It will be good to see him racing. You’ll see him race well. If he gets rolled the last bit, fine, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him win.”
Damien Oliver has also been delighted with Flying Artie’s progress and believes he’s ready to run a big race.
“He had a bit longer out than the other three-year-olds but I think that may be a blessing in disguise,” Oliver said.
“He had a tough two-year-old year so it’s good to give him a bit more time and he seems to have thrived on that.”
Price also has Heptagon in the race which the trainer said was a “throw at the stumps” for the colt on the way up in a $350,000 race on his home track.