A few months ago, trainer Bede Murray attended to retired Group One winner Coniston Bluebird and was struck by how well he looked.
“It was just before August, he’d spent six months in the paddock and I went there one day to have a look at his feet,” Murray said.
“I looked at him and he looked so well, I thought `he’s only a five-year-old’ so I asked the owners to give him another preparation and see.”
His owners were persuaded and on Saturday Coniston Bluebird will line up in the Centrebet’s Pick Your Own Field Hcp (1400m) at Rosehill.
It will be the second run of his comeback after he finished down the track over 1350m at Rosehill on October 8.
The gelding won the 2009 Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m) and contested that year’s AJC Australian Derby won by Roman Emperor.
But that was to be his last race for almost 18 months.
“He strained a suspensory and had to go to Melbourne for stem cell treatment,” Murray said.
“When he came back his benchmark rating was so high he had to run in all the weight-for-age races, all the top races.
“We decided to retire him, not because he had a problem with his suspensory or anything, but because we thought he might have done enough.”
Murray was buoyed by some of Coniston Bluebird’s performances post-injury, including a sixth to More Joyous in the 2010 Group One George Main Stakes (1600m).
Given the gelding was a Derby winner, Murray stretched him out to 2400m again in last year’s Christmas Cup but he now believes his charge is not a genuine stayer.
“He ran some nice races last preparation when he was out of his grade but when he went up in distance he just didn’t measure up,” Murray saud.
“As a three-year-old he won a Derby but I don’t think he stays so we will probably keep him to distances around a mile (1600m).”
Coniston Bluebird will be one of three runners for Murray along with unraced two-year-old Magical Talent in the Harvey Norman Hcp (1100m) and Heza Playboy in the Sportingbet Hcp (1350m).
Magical Talent, by Show A Heart, finished third in his only trial and Murray has put blinkers on for his debut.
“He was very green (in the trial) and he still has a lot to learn,” he said.
“He’s had a jumpout since then and I’ve put the blinkers on for Saturday, I think they will help him a bit.
“He’s not a big, robust colt but I think he will make a nice horse. He will be much better next preparation.”
Murray said Heza Playboy would be spelled after Saturday with a view to the autumn.