In-form Christian Reith will jump aboard Circle Of Power for the first time when the gelding chases a breakthrough stakes success at Rosehill on Saturday.
Trainer Rod Craig, fresh from a winner at Canterbury last Saturday, will give Circle Of Power his chance in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m), a race he described as a prelude to next month’s Group Two Villiers Stakes.
Circle Of Power was beaten a short-neck by fellow Festival entry Lightinthenite last start, and Craig said the four-year-old deserved his chance in Sydney’s summer features.
“I think Saturday is a good test for him,” Craig said.
“Most of these horses have been racing against each other while he’s a bit of a new kid on the block.
“He’s going to drop five kilos on his last start and that will be a big bonus for him.
“I’m more than happy with him and we’ve got a good rider on him in Christian Reith.
“I think if he runs up to his last couple of starts, with no weight on his back, he’ll be competitive.”
Reith’s double at Canterbury on Saturday kept him in the top five in the Sydney premiership.
Circle Of Power was one of 19 Festival nominations with Gai Waterhouse entering first-up winner Kontiki Park and Group Two winner King Lionheart.
Craig said it was a great stepping stone to the Villiers (1600m) at Warwick Farm on December 17.
“It (the Villiers) will probably be a similar field to this with maybe a couple of interstate horses. This is a bit of a prelude,” he said.
The Warwick Farm trainer is likely to have three Rosehill runners with Gaze In Awe set to back up over 1400m while Sir Nick will contest a 1500m event.
Gaze In Awe came from last to win over 1250m at Canterbury and will again be ridden by apprentice Shaun Guymer.
“My intention was always to run this Saturday over the 1400 metres and not last week,” Craig said.
“But then when it rained I decided to give him a go last week with no weight and a good draw just to see how he handled it.
“It was also going to be three weeks between runs.”
Gaze In Awe has two wins and five placings from 13 starts.
“We’ll see how he goes this Saturday and who knows, there might be something there for him in the autumn or maybe even in Brisbane (during the winter),” he said.
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