Prairie Fire stormed into calculations with a win a week out from the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes and the colt is a chance to give trainer Mick Price another success in Victoria’s premier race for juveniles.
Price has won two of the past six Blue Diamonds with Samaready (2012) and Extreme Choice (2016) and admits Prairie Fire surprised him with the strength of his win in last Saturday’s Listed Talindert Stakes at Flemington at his second start.
It clinched Prairie Fire, a $625,000 yearling owned by Sun Stud, a spot in Saturday’s $1.5 million race at Caulfield.
Price said Prairie Fire had bounced through the run.
“It’s a different race for him but he improved a lot from one doughy run to what he did at Flemington,” Price said.
“He improved a lot.
“So this week I can’t ask him to improve any more.”
Price said how the colt ran on debut for third to Ennis Hill in the Chairman’s Stakes had basically been the opinion he had held of him, but admitted that had changed.
“The (first) run sparked him up. The addition of blinkers sparked him up,” Price said.
“I thought he might run a place in the Talindert which would have been good. And then when he won, here we are.
“My opinion keeps going up on him.”
To be ridden by Mark Zahra, Prairie Fire was at $9 on Wednesday and will jump from barrier one.
While Price is a chance for a third Blue Diamond, Lindsay Park’s David Hayes is out to add to his record six.
Hayes won his sixth Blue Diamond, and first in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, last year with Catchy when the stable had six runners including five of the first seven home.
The stable has four runners this year headed by $6.50 favourite Long Leaf who is unbeaten in three starts, along with Ennis Hill, Enbihaar and Qafila.
“I think their form is similar to last year and they were all around the mark last year,” Hayes said.
“It won’t be easy but we’ll be very competitive.”
Hayes was impressed by Prairie Fire’s win on Saturday but believes that also highlighted the form of Ennis Hill.
“The Ennis Hill form looked good on Saturday, but Long Leaf is undefeated,” Hayes said when assessing the stable’s chances.
“You always overlook that.”