The McNeil Stakes will launch the spring campaign of Group One-placed colt Bondi who is in Melbourne to target the Caulfield Guineas.
Bondi raced seven times as a two-year-old, beginning with a second in Sydney’s first juvenile race of last season, the Breeders’ Plate in September and culminating in a close second in the Group One Champagne Stakes in April.
Co-trainer Peter Snowden said it was testament to the horse he was able to contest a host of feature races at two and he believes he has coped with it admirably.
“He has come back stronger. Better,” Snowden said.
“I’m really happy with the horse.”
Snowden believes Bondi will run well on Saturday but expects he will be even better once he gets to 1400m and 1600m on his path to the $2 million Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in October.
“He’s had a good prep,” Snowden said.
“Tomorrow he’ll run well, but I’m expecting him to run better over 1400 at his next start and by the time he gets to the Caulfield Guineas Prelude I want to see him really put his hand up there.”
The Colin Little-trained Vassilator also makes his return in the McNeil Stakes, having won two of his four starts as a two-year-old.
His wins, including the Listed Anzac Day Stakes, came at Flemington over 1400m in April and May.
Little said connections had knocked back some serious offers from Hong Kong for the colt who is being trained towards the Guineas.
“The horse is going really well,” Little said.
“He did have a little setback where we weren’t happy with his blood count a couple of weeks ago but he’s good now and I’m very happy.
“He hasn’t even won a maiden over less than 1400 metres so I think they’ll go a little quick for him but it’s a good race to start off in.”