December Draw doesn’t have to win Sunday’s Group One Turnbull Stakes at Flemington to please his trainer Mark Kavanagh as the import has his final lead-up to the $2.5 million Caulfield Cup.
Since being purchased in England by owner Richard Pegum, December Draw has raced five times for Kavanagh for four wins and a second which finds him $3.50 favourite for the Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Placed in a small field of six in the Listed Magnolia Stakes (2000m) at Kempton (UK) in March last year, December Draw stepped up to the Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield last start and passed with flying colours, defeating English Derby runner-up At First Sight.
The Lloyd Williams-owned At First Sight has been scratched from Sunday’s feature and will run in next Saturday’s Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield.
December Draw faces a solid test at his first Group One assignment, coming up against US Hollywood Turf Cup winner Unusual Suspect, Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God, Rekindled Interest, Precedence, Glass Harmonium and Southern Speed.
“Most of these horses are heading towards the Cups or the Cox Plate,” Kavanagh said.
“Under the set weights and penalties conditions he looks pretty well in and he should be able to measure up with them.
“If he didn’t I don’t think I’d be too disappointed from a handicap point of view going into a Caulfield Cup.
“I did want him to run in this race because I expected him to do pretty well and I don’t want him to get any more penalties going into the Cups.”
A small and lean but athletic English stayer, December Draw is weighted to carry 54.5kg on Sunday and 52kg in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
He is unbeaten in three starts at Flemington and has won four races at the 2000m of the Turnbull, but hasn’t raced beyond that trip.
While At First Sight has been scratched, Williams has two runners in three-time Flemington Group One winner Efficient, who is second-up after a long layoff, and Australian Cup runner-up Linton.
The two greys give Williams the chance to win the race for the third successive year having won it with Efficient in 2009 and Zipping last year.
Efficient was having his first outing in nearly two years when 10th to Lion Tamer in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 17.
Linton, who ran third to Cedarberg in The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill in April before being spelled, has had two runs so far this preparation.
He found himself in the unusual position of leading before weakening to finish sixth to Rekindled Interest in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last start on September 10.
December Draw is $3 favourite ahead of Southern Speed at $6.50, Glass Harmonium and Rekindled Interest at $7, Linton at $10 and Playing God at $13.
Efficient is at $21.