Brendan McCarthy believes Divine Mr Artie could be in for his best preparation as the trainer readies the gelding for his return to racing.
Divine Mr Artie, winner of four of his 22 starts, is nominated in Saturday’s 1200m-benchmark-84 handicap on his home track at Caulfield for his first start since early March.
The four-year-old was a dominant winner first-up at Flemington last campaign before going winless in his next six starts.
McCarthy is favouring Saturday’s race as a starting point rather than waiting a week for the Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final at Flemington and risk Divine Mr Artie being balloted out.
“I actually think he has probably done better than he ever has before,” McCarthy said.
“He just looks enormous and he has really matured.
“Last time in he won pretty well at Flemington first-up and I think he’s even better than what he was then.
“I would like to run him at Flemington the week after in the 1200 metre Listed race, the Sprint Series Final, but what I’m worried about is that because he hasn’t run in any of the heats he could be doubtful of getting a run.
“So I’m probably going to go with the surer option of running at Caulfield.”
McCarthy said the Group Three Bletchingly Stakes in late July is one race on the radar.
“We’ll try to get a score on the board then possibly look at stepping up in grade,” he said.
Divine Mr Artie has had three attempts at stakes level without success, including a fifth as favourite in the Standish Handicap.
“When he has had a couple of cracks he hasn’t been at his optimum and things haven’t gone his way,” McCarthy said.
“I do think he is a lot better this time and I think he will get to that grade this time around.
“Even though he’s been a model of consistency, I think a bit of a lack of maturity and a few mistakes has cost him some more wins.
“And I just don’t think he’ll be making those mistakes now.”