Winning the Shannon Stakes won’t be enough to convince trainer Brett Partelle he should deviate from a long-term plan to have Torio’s Quest in peak form for an ambitious Melbourne campaign.
Torio’s Quest is an Epsom Handicap entry but Partelle remains steadfast in his commitment to use the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield as a springboard into the W S Cox Plate.
“We’ve pretty well nutted out a plan since the Brisbane winter carnival,” Partelle said.
“After Saturday’s race, he’ll be on the float to Melbourne the following Wednesday or Thursday because it is important to get him settled in ahead of the Toorak.”
With Glen Boss in the saddle, Torio’s Quest made an ideal start to his spring campaign when a close second to Master Of Design in the Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill.
“I thought he was exceptional first-up because he was only 85 to 90 per cent there,” Partelle said.
“There’s been no indication he hasn’t improved since.”
Subsequent George Main Stakes runner-up Ilovethiscity was 2-1/2 lengths behind Torio’s Quest in the Theo Marks, creating a form line Partelle believes will continue to work out for his horse.
“I took a lot of heart from the George Main result,” he said.
“Hopefully we can go to Melbourne on a winning note.”
Partelle is hoping the Toorak Handicap will confirm Cox Plate plans for his four-year-old.
“Realistically if he can’t win a Toorak – or at least run a very unlucky second – he can’t win a Cox Plate,” Partelle said.
“He needs to run a race in the Toorak and that will top him off for his next run after that.”
Hugh Bowman, who won the Queensland Guineas on Torio’s Quest, is back on board on Saturday.
He takes over from Glen Boss who was in the saddle in the Theo Marks and is first in line for the mount in Melbourne.
“Hugh has got first refusal but at the moment it’s a bit up in the air,” Partelle said.
Torio’s Quest is one of 13 Shannon Stakes nominations with entries numerically dominated by trainer Gai Waterhouse.
She has four horses – Caulfield Cup winner Descarado, Fast Clip, first-up winner King Lionheart and staying mare Older Than Time – entered for the traditional Epsom lead-up.
Premier trainer Chris Waller has nominated Syreon and Triple Honour.
But the horse for Torio’s Quest to beat will be Ilovethiscity’s stablemate Secret Admirer.
Secret Admirer burst into Epsom contention when she went down narrowly to Sincero in the Tramway Handicap earlier this month.