It may be a year early for Celtic Dancer but the three-year-old will go under the spotlight for the Brisbane winter carnival sprints at Doomben on Saturday.
Trainer Noel Doyle will consider nominating Celtic Dancer for the Group One Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June if the son of Choisir delivers in the Listed Queensland Day Plate (1350m).
Celtic Dancer finished a close fourth to Torio’s Quest in the Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) on his home track of the Gold Coast on January 15 before registering his fifth career win at his ninth start over 1350 metres at Doomben two weeks later.
Doyle then started planning for the Brisbane winter carnival and gave Celtic Dancer a two-month break before he returned with a close fifth to I’m Ruthless in a 1200-metre Class Six Plate at Doomben on March 26.
Doyle rates Celtic Dancer one of the best sprinters he’s trained and has likened him to his former star Don’t Play.
“He’s got to step up in class a bit more yet to match Don’t Play but he’s heading the right way,” Doyle said.
“Don’t Play won a Cameron Handicap for me and ran second in a Stradbroke and this horse isn’t far behind him.”
Doyle was delighted with Celtic Dancer’s last start when he feared he was a little soft in condition.
“He ran a big race after a two-month break,” Doyle said.
“He drew bad that day but he still managed to cross them and lead before he felt the pinch.”
Doyle was pleased when Celtic Dancer drew gate four.
“They won’t beat him on Saturday,” a confident Doyle declared.
“His work this week has been enormous.”
Doyle will closely monitor Celtic Dancer’s performance in the Queensland Day Plate before making a final call on his winter program.
“At this stage he’s heading to the Queensland Guineas but I want to see how he performs on Saturday,” he said.
“I’ll throw in a nomination for the Stradbroke which is on the same day but I honestly believe he’ll be a Stradbroke chance next year.”
Doyle has ruled out the Group Three Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) on May 7 with Celtic Dancer in preference for the Group Three Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 30.
“The Gold Coast Guineas is unlikely at this stage as he’d need to come back in distance for that whereas I can step him up for the Gunsynd Classic,” Doyle said.