Imported French stayer Alward might race in Group company during his first Australian campaign after all, providing he wins at Randwick.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has played down Alward’s prospects since he won a Benchmark 82 Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill in August and was installed, temporarily, as favourite for the Group One Metropolitan Handicap.
Waller has limited Alward to benchmark races until Saturday’s Listed City Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m).
Should he justify his pre-race favouritism, Waller said Alward could run in the Group Three Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on November 4.
The winner of the Lexus is guaranteed a start in the Melbourne Cup if already entered as is the case with Alward.
“He’d have to win to look at the Lexus. You never say never but he’s been up a long time,” Waller said.
Alward has won four of his seven starts since joining Waller’s operation from France in September last year.
The campaign started in July and he finally steps up to what could be his best distance.
“It’s the right time to try him over 2400. He ran second in a 2400-metre race in France, normally that’s a pretty good guide to their distance,” Waller said.
“They (French trainers) seem to work it out quicker than we do. They don’t seem to get it too wrong.”
Alward is backing up from a three-horse race at Randwick where he won a Benchmark 90 Handicap (2000m) from his stablemates Up ‘N’ Rolling and Veladero.
Waller insisted the race was a genuine work-out for Alward, who won by 1-3/4 lengths.
“It looked quite competitive to my eye. My instructions to our riders was to simulate race-like conditions as close as they could,” Waller said.