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Phillip Stokes will use a late-season juvenile race at Flemington to test the waters for Counterplay

Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes will use a late-season juvenile race at Flemington to test the waters for a potential Melbourne spring campaign for unbeaten filly Counterplay.

Stokes plans to send Counterplay across from Adelaide for Saturday’s 1100m handicap for two-year-olds after the filly has won her first two starts in her home state.

After winning at Clare by less than a length on debut on May 14, the filly showed improvement when sprinting to a 4-1/2 length success at Morphettville at her second start.

Stokes says the addition of blinkers have been key.

“She won in the country first-up and although she won she wasn’t that impressive,” Stokes said.

“She did a few things wrong.

“We subsequently put blinkers on her for her next start and her work on the Tuesday before that was really good. She took that to the races and won quite easily.”

Stokes is unsure of the quality of the horses Counterplay has beaten and is keen to get a better idea on the rising three-year-old’s potential at Flemington in what is planned to be her final start of the campaign.

“This will be her biggest test so far but I think she deserves a crack,” Stokes said.

“I’m not sure if she beat anything but if she can go over there and run well, we might say she’s good enough to go back in the spring.

“After this we’ll work out where she lies in the big picture.”

Melbourne premiership leader Beau Mertens has been booked for the ride.

Counterplay is scheduled to travel to Melbourne on Thursday night and could be joined by stablemate Trogir who is entered for Saturday’s 2000m benchmark-78 for three-year-olds.

Trogir broke his maiden at Balaklava two starts ago before running second when stepping up to 1550m on the Morphettville Parks track at his most recent start.

Stokes said he would accept with Trogir for Saturday’s race on Wednesday before deciding whether he runs.

“He’s a horse who is relaxing lovely in his work and I reckon he will run the 2000 metres out,” Stokes said.

 
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