Group One handicaps figure in trainer Danny O’Brien’s spring plans for Iconoclasm who will press his claims for those lofty targets in Melbourne’s first stakes race of the season at Flemington.
Iconoclasm races for the first time in two months in Saturday’s Group Three Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
The horse remained in work at O’Brien’s coastal training property near 13th Beach until recently returning to his Flemington base to ramp up preparations with a jump-out on July 26.
“We’re very happy with him,” O’Brien said.
“He trialled nicely and he has good fitness from back in May and early June. This looks a nice start to his spring campaign.”
Iconoclasm won seven of his first 15 starts when trained by Darren Weir and added his eighth victory first-up for O’Brien in the VOBIS Gold Sprint (1200m) at Caulfield in April.
After being unplaced in the Group One Goodwood, Iconoclasm was then short-priced favourite in a 1400m handicap at Flemington on June 8 but finished fifth after ruining his chances when he bounded in the air at the start.
“He cost himself that day, so hopefully he doesn’t do that again,” O’Brien said.
“It is a better race than he won back in April but he’s forward enough to be in the finish.
“We’re hoping to get him to those mile handicaps.”
O’Brien is delighted with Group Three winner Embrace Me’s build-up for her return in Saturday’s VRC Member Brenda Nugent Handicap (1000m) while his leading chance on the program appears to be another four-year-old mare, My Pendant, in the VRC Member Peter Cosgriff Handicap (1400m).
My Pendant is the $2 favourite.
“She’s a mare we’re expecting to go to a higher level over the spring and she’s still in a benchmark-84 for mares tomorrow with 55.5 kilos,” O’Brien said.
“The market has probably found her but hopefully she can win and go on to better races.”
O’Brien has scratched Group One winner Volkstok’n’barrell from the VRC Member Emma Duffy Handicap, saying he was not 100 per cent happy with the gelding’s blood picture.
Volkstok’n’barrell is now likely to make his first appearance for his new stable at The Valley on August 24.