It may not officially signal the start of spring but the Aurie’s Star Handicap is a starting point for many carnival aspirants.
The Group Three race at Flemington on Saturday starts the spring campaign for Hey Doc.
Bart Cummings used the 1200m-sprint to start some of his Melbourne Cup contenders while El Segundo ran in the race four times on the way to winning Group One races later in his campaign.
Trainer Tony McEvoy said Saturday’s race was a nice starting point for Hey Doc who won the Group One Australian Guineas at Flemington in the autumn.
“I’m very happy with him and I’m looking forward to getting him back to the races,” McEvoy said.
Hey Doc hasn’t raced since finishing sixth in the Goodwood at Morphettville in May but has had a Flemington straight course jump-out to prepare for his return.
“He didn’t do a lot in his trial but I was very pleased with him and he’s done a nice piece of work since,” McEvoy said.
A break after the Goodwood was more for Hey Doc’s mind and McEvoy said Hey Doc didn’t put on too much weight or change his physical condition from his three-year-old campaign.
Hey Doc will go to the $1 million Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 2 after which a decision will be made in which direction he heads.
“There’s plenty of options so we’ll see where he takes us,” he said.
McEvoy has resisted the temptation to tackle Winx in the Cox Plate by not nominating Hey Doc for the race.
“I’d be happy to try him at 2000 metres but I’m not going to try him at 2000 against Winx,” McEvoy said.
Stablemate Manuel will also contest the Aurie’s Star after failing to make the field for a benchmark 70 race over 1400m.
Hey Doc has opened the $4.80 equal second choice behind Myer Classic winner I Am A Star at $4.20.