Trainer Greg Eurell pulled the pin on Clarice Cliffs’ spring campaign but is confident the mare is back to her best as he prepares her for a return to racing at Caulfield.
Clarice Cliffs runs for the first time since March in Saturday’s Robert Newman Handicap (1200m) and the stakes-placed five-year-old was the $2.30 favourite with Ladbrokes on Friday.
“If she’s back to what I know this mare can be, she’ll be very, very hard to beat tomorrow,” Eurell said.
The winner of three of her six starts, Clarice Cliffs also has two second placings including the Group Three Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m) at Flemington during the 2019 autumn.
The mare had a barrier trial at Pakenham in mid-July in the build-up to a planned spring campaign but Eurell aborted that preparation and gave Clarice Cliffs another spell.
“We were very much looking forward to the spring with her but just nothing went right,” Eurell said.
“Just little things but in the end we were just playing catch-up to try to get to where we wanted to be so we just had to put the white flag up and put her back out again and give her another spell.
“She’s never a big, gross mare but she spelled as good as she could and has come back in and has not missed a beat this time in.
“She’s not a big doer in the feed bin but this time in it’s probably the best she’s ever eaten so all in all we’re pretty happy where she is at.”
Eurell is keen to get through Saturday’s race before mapping out a program towards black-type races during the late summer and autumn.
“She’s a mare that we know has got ability,” Eurell said.
“To me she’s back to where she was. Race day will probably tell us a little bit more if we’re looking a bit better.
“We thought she was a spring mare that could target black-type races so she’s only got to get back to what she was and we’d like to think we could map out a program for her in the autumn targeting black-type races again.”