Three horses from the same family will chase victories in separate races on Australia Day at Caulfield.
Four-year-old gelding Durendal was scratched from Saturday’s Group Two Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley in favour of Tuesday’s Listed John Dillon Stakes while his three-year-old half-brother Tempered is entered for a 1600m benchmark race against his own age.
Both Durendal and Tempered are out of Razor Blade, while Tuesday’s Blue Diamond Fillies Preview contender Sword Of Light is a grand-daughter of the stakes winning mare.
All three are trained by Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra at Flemington.
Durendal is the $3.20 favourite to continue a winning run in the John Dillon Stakes having been successful at his past three starts, highlighted by his Group Three Standish Handicap win on January 1.
“We thought we’d accept and have a look at the Australia Stakes and decided he’s better placed in a handicap,” Ellerton said.
“It was just the weight-for-age versus handicap. That was all it was.”
Durendal won over 1400m at Ballarat in November before dropping back to 1200m down the straight at Flemington where he recorded his next two wins.
Ellerton doesn’t expect the step back up to 1400m to be any issue for Durendal who will jump from the inside gate.
“He’s pretty versatile and providing late in the day barrier one is all right, he’s going to have every chance,” Ellerton said.
Sword Of Light is one of two runners for the stable in the Group Three Blue Diamond fillies Preview (1000m) along with Flemington debut winner Want To Rock.
Ellerton is happy with both fillies and believes it will come down to which one handles the occasion best.
Sword Of Light won at Echuca on debut but played up in the barriers and was scratched from the race won by Want To Rock at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
She was given a jump-out last Friday week and behaved well.
“Hopefully her barrier manners have improved,” Ellerton said.
Want To Rock has a wide draw to contend with but showed her professionalism in her debut win.
“They have got to go around and take their chances,” Ellerton said.
Five-year-old Whistle Baby will join her stablemate Durendal in the John Dillon Stakes, with the mare stepping up in class.
“We’re just trying to get some black type for her connections,” Ellerton said.