Trainer Liam Birchley hopes there is genuine pace in the Group Two Hollindale Stakes so he can get an accurate assessment where Fit For Purpose is headed this winter.
Fit For Purpose is the Queensland hope in the race and after a last-start third in the Listed Tails Stakes (1615m) at Doomben which threw up more questions than answers.
Birchley is keen to run Fit For Purpose in the Group One Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 18 but needs some assurance he is up to the task.
“His last three runs in Listed company have have been a win and two thirds, ” Birchley said.
“So he is obviously a black-type horse but the question is whether he is a Group horse at weight for age.”
The Tails was run on a heavy track and the winner Hallelujah Boy set a slow pace in front.
Fit For Purpose was not suited by the tempo and appeared in the stewards report three times after striking trouble at the start, on the home turn and in the straight.
Birchley said he had not wanted to start Fit For Purpose in the Tails but his hand was forced by a lack of suitable races leading to the Doomben Cup.
“I have always planned to run in the Hollindale but if I didn’t run in the Tails it would have been three weeks between runs,” he said.
“As it turned out it was no guide because of the way the race was run. He had no hope but did a good job to be third.
“I would just like the Hollindale to be run at a decent pace so I can assess where he is at.
“If he shows us he is a Doomben Cup horse that would be great. But there are other races for him if he isn’t.”
Fit For Purpose’s chances haven’t been helped by barrier 17 and at best he will start from 13.
Birchley is keen to press on into the winter with sprinter Havasay who ran home strongly in the Victory Stakes last Saturday.
“It was a handy run as he got shuffled back to last and was too far back but he finished as good as anything,” he said.
The Brian Smith-trained Order Again finished fourth in the Tails and is the second emergency for the Hollindale with his rider Larry Cassidy hoping for scratchings.
“You can forget his defeat in the Tails Stakes two weeks ago because he couldn’t pick his feet up in the wet. I think he would have been a real chance if he gets a run,” Cassidy said.