Veteran stayer Sertorius begins a campaign aimed at the Queensland winter carnival when he lines up in the Victoria Handicap at Caulfield.
The winner of the Group Three Easter Cup (2000m) at the corresponding meeting a year ago, the eight-year-old has been held back a couple of extra weeks to start off in the 1400m-Group Three race.
“He was probably ready to race two weeks ago but just planning the autumn with him, we held him back to go first-up into the Victoria Handicap,” trainer Jamie Edwards said.
“As it’s worked out it’s a lot stronger race than we thought it would be and he’s drawn a pretty poor gate, so we’ll be looking for him running on strongly.”
Sertorius had a four-start Sydney campaign two years ago but at this stage of his career Edwards believes the gelding is best placed in Queensland.
“There’s a lot of suitable 2200 and 2400 metre races in Queensland,” Edwards said.
“We’ll see how we go with him first-up but I expect him to go well. He’s working well and he’s in good condition.”
The Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast in May is a likely option and that race will decide his next start.
“If he comes out and runs a blinder in the Hollindale you go to the Doomben Cup. And if he goes fair then there’s the Group Three Premier’s Cup he could go to,” Edwards said.
Sertorius pulled up sore when unplaced in the Zipping Classic in November but Edwards said the gelding had had a trouble-free preparation leading into his autumn return.
Sertorius has performed well fresh over 1400m at Caulfield in the past but is considered one of the outsiders at $41.
“He’s eight now though turning nine,” Edwards said.
“You’ve got to be realistic about things, but I think the horse is in really good condition. So he’ll go well.”
Newmarket Handicap runner-up Black Heart Bart is the $3.40 favourite ahead of last start Listed winner Tried And Tired at $6.