The addition of a middle-distance race for four-year-olds at Melbourne’s season-opening city meeting is a common sense decision according to trainer Ken Keys.
And the trainer is keen to make the most of it with in-form Spanish Reef.
The $120,000 Domain Handicap (2000m) was added as a 10th race to Saturday’s Flemington program after the final five races at Caulfield last Saturday had to be abandoned because of strong winds.
One of the races called off at the final city meeting of the 2016-17 season was a 2000m race for three-year-olds, hence the decision by officials to add a race for new-season four-year-olds on Saturday.
All bar two of the 16 entries in Saturday’s race were down to face each other last week.
“It makes sense,” Keys said.
“There wasn’t a lot for them after last Saturday if they didn’t put this race on. I think they’ve done the right thing.”
Spanish Reef won in benchmark-70 grade for fillies over 1600m at Sandown second-up on June 28 before a fighting win in the Rivette Series Final (1600m) for fillies at Flemington on July 8 at her most recent start.
“Obviously it was disappointing we didn’t get to run last week but so be it, the others didn’t get to run either,” Keys said.
“She seems to have taken no harm from having the extra week and she did a nice bit of work on Tuesday. So we’re pretty happy.”
Keys rates Spanish Reef a nice staying mare on the way up and is looking forward to seeing her at 2000m for the first time this campaign before giving her a freshen-up.
Her only start at 2000m was a second in a Pakenham maiden at the end of her first campaign but Keys said the lightly raced mare was more mature now.
“Up until now I think everything has been a bonus,” Keys said.
“I think she’s better suited over the 2000 metres and further.
“I guess that’s what she’s bred to do and that’s how it looked in the Rivette.
“She looked to be quite strong on the line so you’d be hopeful that she could do the same again on Saturday.”