As Gai Waterhouse plans the seasonal reappearance of star colt Pierro, the Hawkes team readies All Too Hard and other trainers gear up for the traditional spring lead-ups, one is embarking on a more modest beginning.
Leon Corstens, a trainer who isn’t unfamiliar with good horses, is using a maiden at Monday week’s Swan Hill meeting for the debut of a filly who shows every sign of being a superstar.
Commanding Jewel, a three-quarter sister to the unbeaten Atlantic Jewel, has barely been heard of, her only public appearance being in a 900m trial at Wangaratta last Tuesday which she won by 12 lengths on a heavy track in easily the fastest time of the day.
But the chances are good that she will be a headline act.
“She went good, very happy,” Corstens said.
“I just want to look after her, find a dry track and we’ll see how she goes.”
The Swan Hill plan was announced after Corstens led in Saturday’s Moonee Valley winner Tokugawa whose success provided a clue to the previously uncertain worth of Wangaratta trial form.
Tokugawa, a five-year-old, won a trial on the same day and over the same distance as the unraced three-year-old Commanding Jewel and ran more than two seconds slower.
While Swan Hill maidens aren’t traditional lead-ups to spring carnival stakes races, they have provided the launch pads for a couple of notable careers.
In June 2003 Tony Vasil gave subsequent Caulfield Cup and Dubai Group One winner Elvstroem his first start in a two-year-old maiden at Swan Hill and three years later his international star, Haradasun, made his debut in the same race at the same track.
“It’s just about finding a dry track for her, and Swan Hill’s a good place for that,” Corstens said.
Caulfield trainer Mick Price, meanwhile, will take a more regular course with Blue Diamond winner and Golden Slipper placegetter Samaready when she makes her three-year-old debut in the Listed Quezette Stakes (1100m) at her home track in two weeks.
Price said Samaready had returned from her winter spell in good order and turned in a pleasing effort in a jump-out last Tuesday.
“She’s looking stronger and she seems to have learned a lot from her autumn racing,” Price said.