Tavistock Abbey returns to the scene of his maiden victory when he launches his Queensland Derby campaign in the Bendigo Guineas.
The Anthony Freedman-trained gelding broke his maiden at his third start last September at Bendigo over 1600m before taking out the Victoria Derby Trial (1800m) at Flemington.
He makes his return in Saturday’s Listed Bendigo Guineas (1400m) for three-year-olds, the first step for the gelding on a path to the Group One Queensland Derby (2200m) in June.
“He’s developed and matured a lot in his time off,” Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor said.
“Probably not pushing on to the Victoria Derby really helped him. It just gave him an extra few weeks in the paddock and he’s really thrived with that.
“He hasn’t looked better in his career, so we’re really pleased with him.”
Taylor said Tavistock Abbey was identified as a Queensland Derby hope and they wanted to give him that extra time in the paddock, rather than aim him at the Australian Derby in Sydney.
He said Freedman had changed Tavistock Abbey’s training around a little this preparation and kept him based at the Pinecliff property on the Mornington Peninsula.
Freedman has taken a similar approach with another son of Tavistock, four-year-old Bedford who won three of six starts over summer.
“It worked for us with Bedford and he’s very similar to him, so let’s hope it can work for him as well,” Taylor said.
The Bendigo Guineas attracted a capacity field of 16 plus four emergencies but trainer Tony McEvoy has scratched Aspect and Over Exposure, who drew the two outside barriers.
Taylor expects Tavistock Abbey, who will jump from a wide barrier, to get further back over the 1400m than he has over longer distances.
“If he’s running on through the line we’ll be really pleased,” he said.
Providing Tavistock Abbey pulls up well from Saturday’s race, he is scheduled to travel north later next week to be prepared for the Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Doomben on April 28.