A clash with reigning Caulfield Guineas favourite Brutal will provide a stern test of unbeaten colt Declarationofheart’s Classic credentials in his first stakes mission at Flemington.
The Anthony Freedman-trained Declarationofheart won a maiden at Geelong in January and stamped himself as a colt on the rise with an impressive return in a midweek race at Sandown last month.
He beat older horses in the 1300m benchmark-64 race on August 15 and the three-year-old puts his Guineas claims on display in Saturday’s Listed Antler Luggage Plate (1400m) at his third start.
With no suitable option since the Sandown win, Freedman has given Declarationofheart a month between runs but the colt won a barrier trial at Cranbourne last week with race jockey Mark Zahra aboard.
“We were really happy with his trial and Mark has been in a couple of times to gallop him and he really thinks he’s improved,” Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor said.
“It’s a massive step up taking on the likes of Brutal and those sorts of colts but we strongly believe the Flemington 1400 metres is really going to suit him.
“And if he’s going to be up to running in the 2018 Caulfield Guineas he’d have to be competitive here.”
Brutal, also unbeaten from two starts including the Listed McKenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley, was the $2.30 favourite on Thursday for his first test beyond 1200m.
McNeil Stakes runner-up The August was at $8 while Declarationofheart was at $9.
“On the potential he’s shown us and the confidence Mark has given us we think he’s certainly got the ability to measure up,” Taylor said.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong to date at the races.”