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Trainer Stephanie Bakranich believes Nerodio is ready to take the next step in his career and has mapped out an Ascot feature campaign for the gelding.

The Playing God six-year-old has won nine races from 22 starts and reached a career peak when he won the Listed Beaufine Stakes (1000m) in July.

Stephanie Bakranich says she took great confidence out of Nerodio’s maiden Listed victory and thinks the time is right for him to take on elite sprinters later in the year.

“My plan is to run him the Black Heart Bart Stakes (1200m) and then bring him back for a couple of races at Ascot,” Bakranich said.

“The two races I have identified are the Colonel Reeves Stakes and the Prince Of Wales Stakes.

“I haven’t looked at anything beyond that.

“I think it’s time for him to have a go at Ascot and take on the big ones.

“If he is not 100 per cent right, he can miss the Black Heart Bart and come back for the two races at Ascot.

“The time is right and he is at his best.”

After a winning hat trick in the Beaufine Stakes, Nerodio blotted his copybook form when unplaced in the Bolton Sprint (1200m) last start.

Sent out a warm favourite he ran sixth to Amasenus, beaten 2.7 lengths after fading from second position near the turn.

It was a rare failure from Nerodio who had not finished outside the first three since he commenced his campaign in April.

Bakranich said there were genuine reasons for his defeat.

“We had him scoped after the race and it was discovered he had a bladder infection,” Bakranich said.

“He still ran his heart out and wasn’t beaten by a big margin.

“He always gives you his best in every race.

“So, there were reasons, but he has fully recovered and is bouncing out of his skin.

“He’s had about three weeks off and has really come to hand very quickly.”

Racked by persistent feet issues, Nerodio has raced the bulk of his career at Belmont Park.

His Ascot appearances have been restricted to seven races yielding six placings.

Bakranich is confident Nerodio can overcome an Ascot hoodoo.

“I just thought the harder track at Ascot wouldn’t help with his leg problems,” Bakranich said.

“But this preparation is the best that I’ve ever had him.

“His feet have been no problem and are nice and icy cold.

“There is no issue with his feet.”

The Black Heart Bart Stakes, over 1200m, is run at Belmont on September 25.

The Prince Of Wales Stakes (1000m) on October 30 and the Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) two weeks later, are both at Group 3 level.

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