Strong formlines around Group One placegetter Reuben Percival have earned the emerging Maximus Gladiator a shot at summer staying riches.
The David Vandyke-trained gelding will resume in the Pure Romance Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday, his first start since he finished third to Reuben Percival in May.
Prior to that, he beat the Gai Waterhouse-trained gelding over 2000m at Gosford.
Reuben Percival subsequently won the Listed Winter Cup and returned this preparation with a fine third to stablemate Glencadam Gold in the Group One Metropolitan Handicap.
“We watched that very closely and this guy deserves to have his shot in stakes company over a trip,” Vandyke said.
“Hopefully we’ll be doing that this preparation.”
The trainer of multiple stakeswinner Lamasery, Vandyke will target Maximus Gladiator towards the Group Three Summer Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on Boxing Day.
Having only taken over the gelding’s training last campaign, Vandyke has so far produced him for four wins from five starts, including a first-up victory over 1600m at Kembla Grange in February.
He is confident the five-year-old will again run well fresh, even though he resumes in city company on Saturday.
“I think the big track at Rosehill will suit him and first-up over 1500 shouldn’t be a problem,” Vandyke said.
“He won first-up over a mile last prep on a heavy track, albeit in a lot weaker company.
“His main mission will be the Summer Cup. This is just on the path in that direction.”
Vandyke will also start Bledisloe first-up in the final race on Saturday’s program.
He admits to being disappointed in Bledisloe’s latest barrier trial and is hoping the reapplication of blinkers reignites his spark.
“His most recent trial was disappointing but we didn’t have the blinkers on in that trial and he should be sharper race day with the blinkers back on,” he said.
Saturday’s eight-race card includes a 1200m sprint which has attracted a handy field headed by McClintock.
He returns from Melbourne where he twice placed in stakes company before his last start seventh to Fawkner on Derby day when he went hard in front and tired late.
Victorian mare City Of Song won’t be making the trip north for the Sportsyear Hcp (1350m) with trainer John Moloney opting to stay home after drawing the outside barrier in the 13-horse field.