The Group One Australian Guineas will come into focus for the promising Lucky Liberty if he remains unbeaten at Flemington.
Lucky Liberty has scored impressively in a Mornington maiden and at Sale and is the $2.30 favourite to win Saturday’s Flemington Rose Garden Handicap (1420m).
Caulfield trainer Henry Dwyer said Lucky Liberty has to win to earn a shot at the CS Hayes Stakes and Australian Guineas (1600m).
“We’ve just been taking it race by race because he’s a horse we’ve had a couple of little issues with early days,” Dwyer said.
“He’s really improving all the time and if he was to win on Saturday we’d certainly look towards the CS Hayes Stakes and then the Guineas.”
With the scheduling this year, Dwyer senses there might be an opportunity in the Guineas on March 7.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an overly strong Guineas this year with the Randwick Guineas on the same day,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ll get many NSW horses, so even if he wasn’t perhaps genuine Group One level, which we obviously don’t know yet, it’s probably not the hardest year to do it.”
Lucky Liberty settled last at Sale in a 1200m benchmark race but when jockey Michelle Payne peeled him to the outside in the straight he put his rivals away quickly, scoring by three lengths.
Dwyer said Saturday’s race was the logical step.
“I’d probably be disappointed if he didn’t run really well,” he said.
The fallback option if Lucky Liberty doesn’t win is a benchmark race at Moonee Valley in three weeks which carries a $50,000 Inglis Bonus along with a Vobis Gold bonus.
It’s a race Dwyer said was initially in his sights but admitted the gelding might be going too well for that and would be rated out of it if he wins again.
Dwyer also has last-start Geelong winner See Me Flash in the Pack a Picnic Plate (1100m) and said he’d love to get a city win with the filly.
Meanwhile, Queensland Derby winner Sonntag is being trained out of Dwyer’s Ballarat base and continues to please the trainer ahead of his return in either the CF Orr Stakes (1400m) or Carlyon Cup (1600m) on February 14 at Caulfield.
The Sydney Cup is the main autumn aim.