Veteran sprinter Grand Duels will have a key gear change at Caulfield to try to recapture his winning form.
The eight-year-old has struggled this campaign but trainer Byron Cozamanis is hopeful that taking blinkers off him in Saturday’s 1100m sprint will produce a form reversal.
“He has been over-racing his last three starts so we have taken the blinkers off to try and get him to settle,” Cozamanis said.
Ironically it was the application of blinkers just over a year that rejuvenated the accomplished sprinter.
After finishing fourth at Balaklava in September last year the blinkers went on and he won four of his next five starts.
His second of those wins was the same race he is contesting on Saturday.
He also won Adelaide’s Listed Wylie Stakes in September, 2010.
After his Caulfield success, Grand Duels won the Christmas Stakes on Boxing Day and before taking out the Listed Kensington Stakes at Flemington in January.
He also finished fourth to Black Caviar in the Group One Lightning Stakes at Flemington but then lost form and hasn’t won since.
Three starts ago Grand Duels gave Brad Rawiller a torrid ride and finished near the tail of the field.
“Brad couldn’t hold him up and he raced with his head in the air,” Cozamanis said.
He produced similar results when he again raced fiercely at his next two runs in the Group Two Caulfield Sprint and Listed Swisse Vitamins Stakes at Flemington.
Cozamanis, however, can take some comfort that Grand Duels was well beaten in last year’s Swisse Vitamins Stakes but rebounded a month later to win the easier race at his next start at Caulfield.
“It has been a month since he’s raced at Flemington and he does go well fresh so we are hoping he can turn it around,” Cozamanis said.
He said Grand Duels had to be managed having been plagued by injuries most of his career but he still believes he can add to his 10 wins in 44 starts and boost his $787,210 in earnings.
“He hasn’t had that many runs for an eight-year-old and while he’s had back problems and knee operations I’m happy with him at the moment,” Cozamanis said.
He is yet to book a jockey for Grand Duels with regular riders Steven Arnold and Brad Rawiller both unavailable.