Neville Parnham has flagged the possibility of Australian Cup hope Playing God extending his eastern seaboard tour to contest next month’s AJC Australian Derby.
Parnham said the Australian Guineas placegetter would back up in Saturday’s Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington and that he may not return to Perth as planned for the WATC Derby (2400m) on April 2 after he nominated him on Monday for the $1.5 million classic (2400m) at Randwick on April 9.
“We will see how he comes out of Saturday’s race (the Australian Cup) but instead of going home we may head up that way (to Sydney),” Parnham said.
Derby entries close on Tuesday.
With Brett Prebble on standby to ride again, Playing God has pleased Parnham with his recovery after an unlucky third to Shamrocker and Bullbars in Saturday’s Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington, fuelling his desire to run him in the Australian Cup.
“I am satisfied with him and once I tell the owner (Chris Loxton) we will confirm he will be running on Saturday,” Parnham said.
“It is the way he (Loxton) would like to go and as he suggested yesterday, we came here for these two races.
“If he (Playing God) had had a better run in transit he may have won the Guineas or gone very close to it and then we would have had no hesitation about running.
“The horse has done well the last two days and everything is going nicely.
“I’m very happy with him and I feel as though he’s certainly indicated to us that he is up to these horses.
“We have seen him back up in the past successfully but the only thing is that if he runs on Saturday it puts us bit off line for the WATC Derby with it being three weeks without a run if we go home.”
Notably, Playing God has been beaten twice as a three-year-old, both times when having three weeks between runs, a fact not lost on Parnham.
The extra week to the AJC Australian Derby would allow time for Playing God to have a lead-up run, possibly under lights in the Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley on March 25.
Parnham said while he was happy with Playing God’s Guineas lead-up, he believes he will strip a harder and fitter horse in the Australian Cup.
If successful Playing God would join illustrious company alongside Dulcify (1979) and Saintly (1996) as the only three-year-old Australian Cup winners in 27 runnings at weight-for-age since 1979.
Five years between 1982 and 1986 the Cup was run as a handicap.