An encouraging last-start Lord Stakes performance by Star Rolling has co-trainer Craig Widdison optimistic the gelding can land his first win in 17 months at Caulfield.
Six-year-old Star Rolling has not won since the Group Two PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield in August 2014.
After beginning his latest campaign by running last in the Group Three Sandown Stakes in November, Star Rolling improved to when fourth in a 1400m open handicap at Flemington.
He was then beaten less than a length when fourth to Signoff in the Listed Lord Stakes (1700m) on Boxing Day after saving ground and hitting the front at the 100m mark.
“It was a much improved run again and I thought he was nearly going to be the winner at the 100 (metre mark),” Widdison, who trains in partnership with Peter Morgan, said.
“We were really happy with that run and have been really happy with him this week going into Saturday, so I think he’ll be really hard to beat.”
Star Rolling lines up in Saturday’s Swettenham Stud Summer Championship Heat 8 (1600m) and apprentice Regan Bayliss’s 1.5kg claim brings him in with 58.5kg.
Last-start Caulfield winner Volcanic Ash is the $3 favourite with Star Rolling second elect at $3.80.
While Widdison acknowledged Star Rolling had been out of form he said the gelding had raced in Group races during that period.
“So it’s been good this preparation to at least see him get close and be competitive and show something,” he said.
Widdison believes a change in Star Rolling’s training routine since the Sandown Stakes has been beneficial, with the gelding doing a lot of work in paddocks at the Whittlesea property where Morgan and Widdison are based, as well as shortening his work on the track.
“We’ve got plenty of room here at our place, a couple of big empty paddocks that are a bit hilly and we’ve just been riding him around that,” Widdison said.
“Figure eights through the paddock and cutting through the trees, that sort of thing.
“It’s just to change his mind. He’s really enjoyed it.”